Telfair Museums announced the acquisition of 347 photographs by photographer Bruce Davidson (American, B. 1933) in a press release this week.

This anonymous gift is a transformational addition to the museum’s permanent collection by a world-renowned photographer whose work is in significant museum collections across the world, including at the Art Institute of Chicago, the National Gallery of Art, and MoMA, among others, according to the release.

The collection spans Davidson’s career from 1956 to 2008 and includes images from his most well-known series including “Circus” (1958), “Brooklyn Gang” (1959), “Time of Change” (1961-1965), “East 100th Street” (1970), “a study of poverty and discrimination in Harlem,” and “Subway” (1980), an essay on a particular American subculture. Davidson is a prolific photographer recognized for his humanistic portrayals of all walks of life.


“History and human nature are deftly revealed through the empathetic eye of Bruce Davidson,” Erin Dunn, Assistant Curator at Telfair Museums, who has curated Telfair’s photography collection since 2014 said. “This momentous gift not only allows us to revel in the individual photographs of Davidson, but to appreciate his entire career’s worth of noteworthy subjects and imagery. The photographs stand on their own, but will also complement themes and subject matters already evident in Telfair Museums’ permanent collection.”

Photography plays a prominent role in Telfair’s robust schedule of annual exhibitions, and in recent years the museum has also traveled photography exhibitions drawn from its permanent collection to museums in New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Wisconsin.

“It is difficult to overstate the impact that this gift will have on Telfair’s photography collection,” Courtney McNeil, Chief Curator & Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs at Telfair Museums said. “The foundation of the museum’s photography collection is one of the country’s largest collections of work by New York street photographer Helen Levitt, and Davidson’s work has many rich thematic parallels to that body of work.”