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Monday, October 18, 2010

Photography and the Smithsonian - what's so important about it?

A teaser from sister blog THE BIGGER PICTURE:

In 2000, as an answer to the question, “does the Smithsonian have an important collection of photography, and if it does, what’s so important about it?” we launched the Smithsonian Photography Initiative. The idea was not to focus on how many images there were around the Mall—the continual proliferation of images makes counting photographs an impossible task in any case, and one that was already nobly being addressed in all corners of the Institution—but rather to contemplate the role photographs played at the Institution. Given the multi-disciplined collections of the Smithsonian, we thought in so doing, we might also get at the nature of photography itself. And given the growing role that digital technologies played in giving institutions like the Smithsonian unprecedented opportunities to access vast collections, the powerful meaning of images—how they got here and how they function—seemed an important thing to know. Too, photography itself seemed at a crossroads: how it is made, how it is shared, how it has changed, and is changed by the people who make images and use images. It also was important to embrace new platforms for exhibiting and publishing images.

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