A Gift of Photographs from John Hagefstration

May 20, 2022 - Nov 01, 2022

The collections of the Birmingham Museum of Art shape the histories that can be shared in the Museum’s galleries. If a story, an artist, or an art movement is not represented in the collection, it can be impossible to explain its significance. Museum curators are sometimes able to purchase works of art to grow the collection, thereby growing the stories the Museum is able to tell, but often the objects you encounter on the walls are given to the Museum. The Museum and the Birmingham community benefit greatly from this generosity, as these contributions sometimes bring previously unrepresented artists, new works of art, important media, and expanded perspectives into the galleries. Birmingham-based collector John Hagefstration’s gift of close to 300 photographs is an example of one such transformative offering, vastly expanding the Museum’s collection representing the history of photography in the United States and beyond. 

In this collection focus installation, you see a selection of the works given to the BMA by Hagefstration in 2020. In 2020 he gave 201 works, building on a group of nearly 100 other photographs he had donated over the previous sixteen years. Hagefstration purchased many of these photographs with the goal of strengthening the Museum’s photography collection. These photographs were made from the early twentieth century to the present. They capture significant episodes in the development of the medium, allowing us to better represent the history of movements, schools of photography, and the work of individual artists in new depth. His collection also expands the diverse perspectives featured in our collection, including new works by Alabama artists, women artists, and LGBTQIA+ artists. Visit this focus installation of fourteen photographs to see how the Museum’s collections have recently grown.

Image caption: Ray K. Metzker (American, 1931-2014). Sand Creatures (69 EO 16), 1969, gelatin silver print. Collection of the Art Fund, Inc. at the Birmingham Museum of Art; Gift of John Hagefstration, AFI.139.2020 © Estate of Ray K. Metzker