Center for Creative Photography

The University of Arizona’s Center for Creative Photography is recognized as one of the world’s finest academic art museums and study centers. It is the largest institution in the world devoted to documenting the history of North American photography.

The Center for Creative Photography began as a conversation in December 1974, between Ansel Adams and then University President John Schaefer.

During the opening of a one-man exhibition of Adam’s photographs at the University of Arizona’s Museum of Art, Schaefer ventured to ask him if he would be interested in placing the archives of his work at the University. Adams was not interested in having his work stand as an isolated collection, but if the University was willing to think in broader terms and include the works of many other photographers, he would be interested in exploring the possibilities. What followed was an invitation to visit Adams at his home in Carmel-By-The-Sea, California.

The Center opened shortly thereafter in 1975. It was cofounded by Adams and the University, following the meeting between him and Schaefer.

Beginning with the archives of five master photographers—Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and Frederick Sommer—the collection has grown to include 239 archival collections. Among these are some of the most recognizable names in twentieth century North American photography. The Center is now home to greater than 2,500 Ansel Adams prints.

In 2006, the Center for Creative Photography partnered with the Phoenix Art Museum to bring some of the Center’s fine photography to new and larger audiences. Now, through the combined efforts of these two organizations, Phoenix Art Museum visitors can experience unparalleled excellence in the field of photography in the Museum’s Doris and John Norton Gallery for the Center for Creative Photography.

Altogether there are over five million archival objects in the Center’s collection including negatives, albums, scrapbooks, writings, and memorabilia. There are currently more than 90,000 works by over 2,200 photographers, along with an extensive library of rare books, journals, and exhibition catalogs. The combined art, archival, and research collections at the Center provide an unparalleled resource for research, exhibitions, loans, and traveling exhibitions.