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As Princeton's first professor of the history of photography, from 1972 to 2002, Peter C. Bunnell mentored a generation of scholar-curators while building one of the great North American teaching collections. In celebration of the endowment of the Peter C. Bunnell Curatorship of Photography, this exhibition presents a “timeline” of works representing the major photography exhibitions mounted at the Museum during Bunnell's years. Showcasing the great range of his scholarly interests, from the daguerreotype to Pictorialism to contemporary color photography, the exhibition chronicles the collection’s evolution from its beginnings to the turn of this century, by which time it numbered over 20,000 objects.

In 1972, Peter C. Bunnell was appointed as the David Hunter McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art at Princeton University. Over the following three decades, he combined a busy teaching schedule with service as curator of photography at the Museum, where he also served twice as director (1973–78 and 1998–2000). 
Bunnell built a collection at the Museum that helped him to teach hundreds of undergraduates and fourteen doctoral students, who in turn have brought photography to a wider audience as curators at institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Musée d’Orsay, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum. This year, Bunnell’s remarkable legacy at Princeton has been secured with the endowment of the Peter C. Bunnell Curator of Photography. 
The works in The Bunnell Decades illustrate a selective chronology of the principal exhibitions of photography mounted during Bunnell’s years at Princeton. The Steerage was the first photograph to enter the Museum’s collection, in 1949, and it appeared twenty-three years later in Bunnell’s first exhibition, on the work of Alfred Stieglitz and the members of his group, the Photo-Secession of New York. 
In the year preceding Bunnell’s appointment, David Hunter McAlpin, Class of 1920, gave the Museum over 450 photographs as well as funds for further acquisitions. Building on these resources, Bunnell crafted one of the country’s leading teaching collections, all the while organizing exhibitions to reflect its diversifying strengths. Some of his scholarly interests, showcased here, include Pictorialism; photographs from nineteenth-century France and Britain, postwar Japan, and the American West; and that ever-shifting field, the “contemporary.”

Details of the exhibition can be found here.


Photo: Lewis W. Hine, American, 1874–1940: An Industrial Design, 1920, Gelatin silver print, 34.1 x 24.6 cm. Anonymous gift (x1973-34).

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