Photography

Overview

One of the first museums to recognize photography as a legitimate art form, SFMOMA has been collecting and exhibiting photographs since 1935. Tracing the development of the medium from its invention in the 1830s to the present day, our photography collection comprises more than 14,000 pictures and is particularly well regarded for its concentrations of photographs related to California and the West, the European avant-garde, and American Modernism. Other areas of strength include Japanese photography, landscape photography, and a growing 19th-century collection. Dedicated to the examination of visual culture in all its forms, the department is notable for its active interest in collecting and exhibiting vernacular photography — anonymous snapshots, documentary evidence, and other photographic images never intended to be viewed as art.

Highlights