Explore Art \\ Collection
Currently not on view
PEM’s photography collection encourages different ways of seeing the world.
What compels us to take photographs and share them? Photography, in all its forms, embodies a desire to communicate, to transmit ideas and messages across time and space. PEM’s photography collection reflects the global activities and spirit of the museum’s earliest supporters, voyagers who sought to explore and share the world with their community.
The collection dates to 1855 and tells the story of photography across three centuries, helping us understand why and how pictures are made and the important role the medium has played in shaping visual cultures across the world. The earliest photograph in the collection is a daguerreotype of the Pont Neuf in Paris attributed to Vincent Chevalier. It is one of the few surviving examples of photography made shortly after the medium was introduced to the public in 1839. Since then, photography has been collected by each of the institutions that came together to form PEM. The collection has grown to encompass works representing dozens of different photographic techniques, including daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, and albumen, gelatin silver, and inkjet prints.
Explore some highlights from the collection