Photographs are among the most popular, widely relevant, and in-demand objects for teaching, exhibitions, and programs at the Johnson. Our four-year initiative, in partnership with the Cornell University Library and funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, has had a successful start.

Part of the initiative is the creation of thematic teaching sets of images to help instructors integrate visual materials into their curricula. The first set, on the history of photography, launched in Fall 2018. Andrew Moisey, assistant professor and director of Visual Studies, was a member of the working group that helped devise the set and used it for his courses on the history of photography and photo­books, working with Kate Addleman-Frankel, the Gary and Ellen Davis Curator of Photography.

The second set, focused on landscape and the environment, is being used during the Spring 2019 semester. The working group assisting with this set included faculty from seven departments, three colleges, and four programs of study. The third teaching set, on Asian studies, will be developed later this year.

A visual materials cataloguer, Amanda Kiesl, has been working with both the Library and Museum collections records. At the Johnson, she is assisted by Ryan Stommel, the Alison Cheng Intern for Photography.

Following Object Lessons: Photography at Cornell, 1869–2018, the Museum’s fall exhibition related to the first teaching set, an exhibition related to the second set, World Picture: Travel Imagery Before and After Photography, will be on view at Kroch Library’s Hirshland Gallery, investigating how photographic and nonphotographic materials worked to create and transmit geographical knowledge in the nineteenth century. Both exhibitions were curated by Addleman-Frankel and incorporate works from both the Museum and Library collections.

A photography symposium, organized with Andy Grundberg ’69, former photography critic for the New York Times and generously supported by the Melissa ’85 and Matthew Rubel Family Fund for Photography, Education, and Engagement, will take place at the Museum on Friday, March 22. Artists, archivists, and curators actively involved with photographic archives will discuss important issues regarding the selection, use, contextualization, and interpretation of photographs. Presenters will address how specific photographs acquire added meaning in the company of others, how photographic archives serve a variety of users and audiences, why the photographic archive as an idea has become central to the practices of contemporary art, and how the collection and presentation of traditional archives differs from that of today’s digital image recording.

Additionally, the Museum is launching a Friends of Photography Committee that will support the acquisition of photographic objects to advance the goals of the project and the Museum’s photography program, cochaired by Addleman-Frankel and Deborah Goodman Davis ’85, an art consultant specializing in nineteenth- and twentieth-century photography and author of PhotoRx: Pharmacy in Photography Since 1850. Committee members will deepen their understanding of photography and learn from curatorial experts, artists, and professionals in the field, making a lasting impact on research, teaching and scholarship at Cornell.