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TAKE YOUR PICK : COLLECTING FOUND PHOTOGRAPHS

Jennifer Friess : Associate Curator of Photography



 WHAT BELONGS IN A MUSEUM’S PERMANENT 

 COLLECTION, AND WHY? 


Take Your Pick invites you—the Museum’s visitors—to have an important voice in selecting photographs for our permanent collection. Who and what should be represented, and how should we decide? 

When originally opened in Fall 2019, this exhibition considered these questions in regard to 1,000 amateur photographs on loan from the private collection of Peter J. Cohen, who has gathered more than 60,000 snapshots while exploring flea markets in the United States and Europe over two decades. The images he has collected depict all aspects of daily life and reveal the dynamic histories of amateur photography. 

Such pictures have particular significance in the current digital age, when it is much less common to make physical copies of personal photographs. They constitute important artifacts of twentieth-century visual culture and precedents for the photographs we still make today. 

Explore the top 250 photos from Take Your Pick and learn more about the history of snapshot photography.

Interested in going further? Check out various videos from Curator Jennifer Friess and Collector Peter J. Cohen

Four men in uniform stand in front of a pyramid-shaped tent. A fifth man is standing at the very top of the tent holding a broom.
American
Untitled
photograph on paper
5 1/8 x 3 1/8 in. (13.02 x 7.94 cm)
Gift of Peter J. Cohen, selected by Museum visitors, 2019-2020
A silhouette of a man, photographed against what appears to be the opening of a tunnel with railings on both sides. Most of the image is very dark with a light circular shape and the figure at the center.
American
Untitled
photograph on paper
5 1/8 x 3 1/4 in. (13.02 x 8.25 cm)
Gift of Peter J. Cohen, selected by Museum visitors, 2019-2020
A woman in a long, formal-looking dress leaning against the outside corner of a building. Her body is turned towards the left and she looks directly at the camera.
American
Untitled
photograph on paper
5 x 3 1/2 in. (12.7 x 8.89 cm)
Gift of Peter J. Cohen, selected by Museum visitors, 2019-2020
A hanging display of what appear to be model or toy airplanes. The planes are various sizes and are hung by their tales from a piece of bamboo mounted on the wall.
American
Untitled
photograph on paper
5 x 4 in. (12.7 x 10.16 cm)
Gift of Peter J. Cohen, selected by Museum visitors, 2019-2020
A blue-tinted image of a horse with a cat laying on its saddle.
American
Untitled
photograph on paper
4 x 5 in. (10.16 x 12.7 cm)
Gift of Peter J. Cohen, selected by Museum visitors, 2019-2020
Two children standing outside on either side of a snowman. Both children are dressed in winter clothes and hats and there is snow on the ground. A shovel has been stuck into the snowman's torso.
American
Untitled
photograph on paper
2 3/4 x 4 5/8 in. (6.99 x 11.75 cm)
Gift of Peter J. Cohen, selected by Museum visitors, 2019-2020
Two people in a light shape in the center of the image surrounded by darkness, as though photographed up through a tunnel. There is a handwritten caption below the image that reads "LIZZY + CITAS"
American
Untitled
photograph on paper
4 1/2 x 2 3/4 in. (11.43 x 6.99 cm)
Gift of Peter J. Cohen, selected by Museum visitors, 2019-2020
Two prop human skeletons from the shoulders up, dressed in shirts and hats and placed under a black umbrella. The skeletons appear to be sitting on a wooden pier with water visible in the background.
American
Untitled
photograph on paper
4 1/4 x 2 1/2 in. (10.8 x 6.35 cm)
Gift of Peter J. Cohen, selected by Museum visitors, 2019-2020
A woman in a shin-length dress with a white collar standing on a city street holding a camera. She is looking down and there are umbrellas and streetcars visible in the background.
American
Untitled
photograph on paper
4 5/8 x 4 5/8 in. (11.75 x 11.75 cm)
Gift of Peter J. Cohen, selected by Museum visitors, 2019-2020
An oval-shaped portrait of a girl holding a violin and bow. She wears a headband and a light-colored dress with a high collar and long sleeves.
American
Untitled
photograph on paper
6 1/2 x 4 1/4 in. (16.51 x 10.8 cm)
Gift of Peter J. Cohen, selected by Museum visitors, 2019-2020
Two children straddling a log with a doll standing on the log between them. The child on the left is looking at the camera and the child on the right is looking down towards the doll.
American
Untitled
photograph on paper
3 1/2 x 5 1/2 in. (8.89 x 13.97 cm)
Gift of Peter J. Cohen, selected by Museum visitors, 2019-2020
A young girl wearing a light-colored dress and bandana lounges on a railing.
American
Untitled
photograph on paper
2 3/4 x 3 3/4 in. (6.99 x 9.53 cm)
Gift of Peter J. Cohen, selected by Museum visitors, 2019-2020

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250 Collection Object Sources

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Last Updated

February 10, 2021 12:54 p.m.

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