Acquisitions News

MFA Boston Acquires 447-Work Howard Greenberg Collection of Photographs

Edward Steichen, Gloria Swanson, 1924.


The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has acquired the Howard Greenberg Collection of Photographs, which includes 447 works by 191 artists, among them Roy DeCarava, David “Chim” Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, Helen Levitt, and many more. (Around 80 of those artists are new to the MFA collection.) The collection was added to the museum’s holdings through a gift from the Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust.

“The acquisition of these extraordinary works enriches a collection of art across time and cultures, at the highest level,” Matthew Teitelbaum, the MFA’s director, said in a statement. “Howard is a visionary collector, and we will be proud to display these transformative images throughout the Museum’s galleries.”

Works from the Greenberg collection are set to go on view at the museum in an exhibition that will open on August 11, 2019, and run through December of that year. Greenberg, who runs an eponymous New York gallery that specializes in photography, previously showed works from his collection at the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation in Paris, in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

In a statement, Greenberg said that the MFA “will be a perfect resting place for the collection. Their enthusiasm for the results of my efforts has been unrelenting.”

Greenberg’s collection is rich in examples of modernist photography. Among the works being added to the MFA collection are Farm Security Administration–commissioned works by Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, 20 pictures by Weegee, Robert Capa’s war scenes, and civil rights movement–era photography by Charles Moore and James Karales, as well as pictures by André Kertész, Roman Vishniac, Jacob Riis, and others.

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