Virginia Museum of Fine Arts adds 2,000 gifted photography books to collection

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) received a gift of over 2,000 photography books this week, expanding its collection of rare books and references and offering new connections to past, present and future exhibits.

The books were donated to the Richmond museum by Barry and Gretchen Singer. Barry Singer is one of the country’s leading photography gallerists and has a gallery in Petaluma, California, specializing in 19th and 20th-century photography.

Singer was previously considering what to do with his personal collection of photography books and references, eventually deciding they would be in good hands at VMFA.

“I knew the museum would be able to ensure their care and value their importance, and that the books would be fundamental to VMFA’s other collections and exhibitions,” Singer said.

With this gift, many rare monographs, periodicals, reference books, first editions and signed copies are now part of the museum’s Margaret R. and Robert M. Freeman Library and Special Collections, which includes more than 150,000 volumes and 200 periodical titles.

Many of the donated books directly relate to the museum’s existing and upcoming exhibits. The donation includes books featuring the work of landscape photographer Ansel Adams, which appeared in the museum’s traveling exhibition “Ansel Adams: Compositions in Nature.”

Other books feature photography that influenced the development of the exhibition “Man Ray: The Paris Years” and the museum’s upcoming exhibition “American, Born Hungary,” which will open in 2024.

“This collection is a transformative donation and has greatly increased our holdings in the subject areas of American and European photography,” Alex Nyerges, VMFA’s Director and CEO, said. “These books are already proving invaluable to exhibitions developed by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and this gift further supports the museum’s future photography galleries that are being planned.”

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, located at 200 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard, is the only art museum in the country that is open 365 days a year and has free general admission. It is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm and open until 9 pm every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

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