Agfa photo-historama/ Museum Ludwig, Cologne (Germany)
Photography’s cultural history is the focus of the unique Agfa Photo-Historama collection in Cologne’s Ludwig Contemporary Art Museum. The collection encompasses photographs, cameras, lenses, photo reproduction equipment, as well as books, magazines and other ephemera, much of which comes from the archives of the Agfa Kamerawerk in Munich. Information for the collection comes from a shared web site for the museums of Cologne. In German and English.
Alinari Photography Archive and Museum, Florence
The collections of the Alinari family photography firm tell a fascinating story of history and continuity in photography. Founded in Florence in the early years of the medium, Fratelli Alinari, has worked continuously in the field while also dedicating itself, on a grand scale, to the conservation and exhibition of historical and contemporary photographic work. The Alinari Archive is an immense fund of 3,500,000 photographs, some 300,000 of which have been digitized and archived on the Alinari site for commercial and educational use. The Fratelli Alinari Museum of the History of Photography exhibits work from the Archives, often focusing on important Italian and non-Italian photographers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In Italian and English.
American Museum of Photography
This virtual museum seems to achieve a balance between the curatorial research and critical content that goes into physical exhibitions and the succinct writing and image driven nature of web exhibitions. The site includes several intriguing exhibitions dealing with different aspects of the complex and profound impact of photography on American society, history and culture. All images are drawn from the virtual museum’s real life collection of over 5000 historical prints.
Art Institute of Chicago
The AIC’s impressive photo collection was kick-started in 1949 by Georgia O'Keeffe’s donation of a significant portion of the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, some of which can be seen in the nearly 10,000 digitised photos available on the site. Other important bodies of work include Edward Weston, Paul Strand, Eugene Atget, and André Kertész. The Mary L. and Leigh B. Block Photography Study Room makes the AIC’s 18,000 item collection available to researchers. The Photographic Society, a group of photographers and photo-related professionals, works to fund and promote the museum’s photo collection.
Australian Centre for Photography, Paddington
This cool and elegant site showcases not only the Australian Centre for Photography’s edgy photo-media art and documentary exhibitions, but also its regular schedule of photo courses, talks, workshops and public events meant to bring help people engage with photography in as many ways as possible. Photofile, Australia’s longest running magazine dedicated to fine art photography shares space on the ACP’s site.
Center for Creative Photography, Tucson
Part of the University of Arizona, the CCP manages one of the largest photo collections on the continent. Emphasizing North-American photographers, the Center opens its collections to the public, offering print viewing for the general public and consultations of the archives and collections by appointment. The collections are also the base for the CCP's educational mandate, which features lectures, seminars, free public education programs, research fellowships and internships.
Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleavland Museum's site provides a substantial gallery of meticulously described digitized images, which span from 19th century French and British daguerreotypes and calotypes to contemporary works by likes of Aaron Siskind and Sally Mann.
Exploring the scope of contemporary photography from its historic home in a converted 18th century warehouse in Amsterdam, the Foam organization produces exhibitions in its museum, prints the always surprizing Foam Magazine and manages Foam Editions of works for collectors. Although it keeps a contextual eye on the history of photography, Foam as an organization is concerned with the unfolding story of contemporary photography in all its permutations.
Fotostiftung Schweiz, or Swiss Foundation of Photography, is an archive and collection focused on the preservation, acquisition and exhibition of primarily Swiss photography. Taken together, the archive and the collection contain over 40 photographic estates and around 40,000 original prints by recognized local and international photographers. The Fotostiftung organizes exhibitions, issues publications on the history of Swiss photography and supports contemporary photography in Switzerland by purchasing recent work. Like most archives, seeing the material that is not on exhibition requires an appointment, but the site does feature a large online catalogue that connects the collections of several photo institutions.
Fuji Film History Museum
Like its American cousin Kodak, the Fujifilm company builds on a strong connection to the history of photography, particularly in the face of the sea-change that is the digital revolution. In the photo business since 1934, Fujifilm has documented its place in photo history within a museum dedicated to medium. The collection follows the evolution of photo processes and camera technology, and offers a rare opportunity to touch antique cameras (well, replicas of antique cameras) and fall in love with the magic of early image-making.
George Eastman House, Rochester NY
The George Eastman House, home of the man who reshaped the photographic medium for 20th century, can claim to be spiritual home of photography, particularly as the historic house and grounds have been converted into the museum that shelters one of the largest photo collections in the world. 400,000 prints and negatives, spanning the history of the medium and featuring some of its greatest artists make up the collection. Keeping the story of photography and film alive and vital through collections, exhibitions, film series, events and lectures – not to mention Flickr, Twitter and a regular podcast - George Eastman House is considered to be a reference in the field.
Installed in its pristine new buildings and gardens, the Getty shows its powerhouse collections to their full advantage. Its photography department was founded fairly recently on the strength of nine varied collections and has been expanding ever since. Research is an important focus for the Center, the fruits of which it shares with the world through its content-rich collection pages. The photo pages break down the collection’s contents by medium (Daguerreotypes, calotypes, cyanotypes, albumen prints) and provide a historical, cultural and/or scientific essay for each image. There is a lot to be learned here.