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House of Photographs: The Kasakoff-Adams Collection

February 18–July 10, 2023

This exhibition introduces a major gift of photographs from the collection of Alice Kasakoff Adams and John W. Adams. The Adamses were both anthropologists who began collecting art as graduate students in the late 1960s, at the very outset of what is now known as the “photo boom.” This period marked the first widespread acceptance of photography as a serious artistic medium, and many galleries, museums, and collectors were eager to partake.

The Adamses were avid but independent participants in this trend, pursuing artists and works without regard for collecting fashions, and making exciting discoveries along the way. Their collection reflects their intellectual curiosity and unique sensibilities, while also offering a fascinating window onto the first decades when photography was widely collected as an art form.

The photographs in this exhibition are arranged around three overlapping themes: families and social groups; the intersection of geography and culture; and experimental approaches to photography itself. These groupings are moored by the thoughtful and often surprising connections that John and Alice Adams made between widely disparate photographs spanning over 150 years and representing photographers from Asia, Europe, Australia, and the United States.

This installation is part of an ongoing series exploring histories of photography through the museum’s collection of nearly 40,000 photographs.

Main Building


Molly Kalkstein, Horace W. Goldsmith Curatorial Fellow in Photography

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