1906 Earthquake

A Disaster in Pictures

January 21-May 30, 2006

In commemoration of the centennial of the great earthquake that struck the San Francisco area on April 18, 1906, this exhibition brings together approximately 100 photographs drawn from the Museum's collection and other local holdings. The earthquake and the subsequent fires it caused reduced much of the city's architecture to rubble and took the lives of thousands of people. In the aftermath of the disaster, many photographers took to the streets with their cameras, documenting the unfathomable damage as well as the valiant relief efforts. The earthquake coincided with a particularly rich moment in the history of photography, when technological advances were making the medium more accessible. 1906 Earthquake explores a variety of photographic responses to the disaster with professional views of the destroyed city.

This exhibition is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and is made possible by generous support from Fireman's Fund Insurance Company as a tribute to the Bay Area fire service. Additional support is provided by the George Frederick Jewett Foundation.

Fireman's Fund

double image of two crumbling houses

H.C. White Co.; After the earthquake Frame Houses Tumbled from Their Foundations, San Francisco Disaster, 1906; Stereoview; Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.