NEW YORK.- The Metropolitan Museum will inaugurate the Joyce and Robert Menschel Hall for Modern Photography on September 25, 2007, establishing for the first time a gallery dedicated exclusively to photography created since 1960. With high ceilings, clean detailing, and approximately 2,000 square feet of exhibition space, the Menschel Hall is designed specifically to accommodate the large-scale photographs that are an increasingly important part of contemporary art and the Museums permanent collection. Photographers represented in the collection include such modern masters as Thomas Struth, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Jeff Wall, Richard Prince, Cindy Sherman, Doug Aitken, and Sigmar Polke.
Philippe de Montebello, Director of the Metropolitan, commented: The establishment of this new gallery for modern photography is but the latest example of Museum Trustee Joyce Menschels dedication to the Metropolitan and of the great generosity with which she and Robert Menschel have enriched the collections and programs of the Department of Photographs and the Museum as a whole over more than two decades. It is fair to say that without Joyces leadership as a Trustee and as Chair of the departments Visiting Committee, photography at the Metropolitan would not play the prominent role that it does.
The opening of the Menschel Hall is a long-anticipated turning point in our history and should be a revelation for visitors to the Museum: that we have been seriously and thoughtfully collecting contemporary photographsthe kinds of pictures not usually associated with the Metfor many years, especially in the last decade, remarked Malcolm Daniel, Curator in Charge of the Department of Photographs. This most recent chapter in the history of photography can now take its place in the broad pantheon of art displayed at the Metropolitan.
The inaugural installation, entitled Depth of Field: Modern Photography at the Metropolitan, draws from the Museums permanent collection to trace the varied paths of photography since 1960: its role in conceptual art, earth art, and performance art, as seen in works by Dennis Oppenheim, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Gordon Matta-Clark, and Douglas Huebler; the Dusseldorf School, featuring works by Bernd and Hilla Becher and their students Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff, and Andreas Gursky; the Pictures Generation, including Cindy Sherman and Laurie Simmons; and other important contemporary artists who use photography, such as Adam Fuss, Rodney Graham, and Charles Ray. Depth of Field will be on view in the Menschel Hall from September 25, 2007 through March 23, 2008.
The inaugural installation will survey some of the key photographs we have acquired over the last 20 years, as well as works that we could not exhibit until now because we did not have a proper space, said Doug Eklund, Assistant Curator in the Department of Photographs and its specialist in contemporary photography. Under the leadership of Maria Morris Hambourg, the department acquired stunning masterworks by artists such as Sigmar Polke, Cindy Sherman, and Thomas Struth. Beginning in the late 1990s, Maria and I drew up a ten-year plan for acquisitions of photography since 1960, and since then we have brought in key individual photographs and groups of work by Robert Smithson, Richard Prince, Louise Lawler, Nan Goldin, Jeff Wall, Christopher Williams, and Sharon Lockhart, among others. During the last seven years, we have built up a followingespecially among artistswith our rotating installations outside the modern art wing, but many photographs are simply too large to fit there. Now we can really show what we have been collecting, concluded Mr. Eklund.
The opening of the Menschel Hall builds on recent exhibitions at the Met that have brought cutting-edge contemporary photography to the attention of the Museums broad audience. One particularly notable milestone was the Mets 2003 presentation of a major Thomas Struth retrospective. Another landmark was the recent exhibition Closed Circuit: Video and New Media at the Metropolitan, which showcased eight moving-image works acquired by the Department of Photographs over the past five years.
Exhibitions in the Menschel Hall will change every six months, and future installations will include thematic selections on topics such as landscape and the built environment, the body, and photography about photography, as well as artists projects, and video and new media.
The Menschel Hall brings continuity to the Department of Photographs several galleries and its wide range of exhibitions. The new exhibition space is located adjacent to the Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Gallery, which highlights the earlier history of photography through works from the permanent collection; directly across from the Galleries for Drawings, Prints, and Photographs, where special exhibitions are often presented; and in close proximity to The Howard Gilman Gallery, the site of smaller thematic exhibitions. The wide spectrum of photographs from the collection that will be seen in the Joyce and Robert Menschel Hall and the Museums other galleries for photography will bring to life the entire history of the medium, from its earliest beginnings to the present day.
Doug Eklund will lead public gallery talks of the inaugural installation in the Joyce and Robert Menschel Hall for Modern Photography at 11 a.m. on October 4, November 2, November 9, November 28, December 5, and December 11. Additional public programs related to contemporary photography are planned for early 2008, and the exhibition will be featured on the Museums Web site at www.metmuseum.org.