Perspectives Behind the Scenes

The James Van Der Zee Archive

Dec 13, 2022 5 MINUTES

Join Jeff L. Rosenheim, The Met’s Joyce Frank Menschel Curator in Charge of the Department of Photographs, in dialogue with Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of the Studio Museum, on the James Van Der Zee Archive at The Met, a landmark collaborative initiative to research, conserve, and provide full public access to the remarkable catalogue of photographs by James Van Der Zee (1886–1983).

The world-renowned chronicler of Black life in New York City during the Harlem Renaissance and for decades thereafter, Van Der Zee was a virtuoso portraitist and one of the most celebrated artists of the 20th century. The archive will comprise approximately 20,000 prints made in his lifetime, 30,000 negatives, studio equipment, and ephemera. The James Van Der Zee Archive is the third archive of an American photographer to be acquired by The Met—preceded by the archives of Walker Evans and Diane Arbus, which were acquired by the Museum in 1994 and 2007, respectively—and its first collaboration with a partner institution to safeguard the legacy of an individual artist.

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