The Museum's noteworthy photography collection contains works by photographers such as Eugène Atget, Paul Caponigro, Jan Groover, Ralph Eugene Meatyard, Cindy Sherman, Aaron Siskind, Edward Steichen, and Garry Winogrand. It was decidedly enriched by the 1993 Robert C. May Bequest, which added important photographs by internationally-prominent photographers such as Berenice Abbott, Ansel Adams, Brassaï, Robert Frank, John Pfahl, and Paul Strand in addition to May's archive of more than 800 of his own photographs. Of special note is an important archive of more than 500 photographs by Doris Ulmann. The Robert C. May Photography Endowment Fund supports the purchase of works by, according to the wishes of the donor, "photographers known on a national level." Acquisitions have included: works by Farm Security Administration photographers Marion Post Wolcott and Arthur Rothstein; examples of "street photography" by Helen Levitt, Louis Faurer, Max Yavno, and Weegee; diaristic works by Danny Lyon and Larry Clark; vintage modernist works by Harry Callahan, Harold Edgerton, and Arthur Siegel; and works by contemporary photographers Lynn Geesaman, Lauren Greenfield, Keith Carter, Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison, and Peter Brown.
700 West Main Street Louisville, Kentucky - KY40202
A new idea Troubled by development encroaching upon rural Kentucky’s farmlands, preservationists and contemporary art collectors Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson sought to reverse the trend toward suburban sprawl by making a considerable contribution toward revitalization efforts in their hometown. Pairing this desire with a second of their passions, to make contemporary art a part of more peoples’ daily lives, the couple embarked on a journey to create both an economic driver for the community and an oasis where art challenges and amuses, stimulates conversation and provokes new ideas.
Ideas into action The pair partnered with world-renowned architect Deborah Berke to reimagine and rehabilitate a series of 19th century tobacco and Bourbon warehouses along downtown Louisville’s West Main Street into a boutique hotel and a contemporary art museum. Could art and commerce coexist in harmony? Brown and Wilson trusted their intuition and sought to test their theory.
In 2006 they opened 21c Museum Hotel Louisville. Much more than just a place to spend the night, 21c is an innovative union of genuine Southern hospitality, thoughtful design, and culinary creativity — all anchored by world-class contemporary art by today’s emerging and internationally acclaimed artists (hence the name, paying homage to the 21st century).
The growing collection includes artifacts, costumes, paintings, drawings, photographs, documents, oral histories and vernacular objects such as: cobblers tools, cooking utensils, quilts, amusement park prizes, opera glasses, chimney pots and various architectural details, business ledgers and advertisements, bottles and crocks, a collection of beer paraphernalia, and handmade cast nets for fishing and net making tools. The collection is informed by a body of research.