Minor White Archive (Princeton University Art Museum)

Minor White. Warehouse Area, San Francisco. Face in the Door. July 9, 1949. Gelatin silver print. The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White. © Trustees of Princeton University

The Princeton University Art Museum has contributed approximately 5,850 images by the seminal American modernist photographer Minor White to the Artstor Digital Library. This contribution represents a substantial selection from the Minor White Archive which first went to Princeton as a gift of the artist in 1976.

Minor White (1908-1976) was one of the most important photographic artists and teachers active during the 30 years following World War II, and a key figure in shaping a distinctly modern American photographic style in thousands of works that fused a precise and meticulous technique with allegory and poetry. White passionately pursued his art, taught it, and wrote about it. He was also the founding editor of Aperture magazine. He worked and lived by his own creed: “Photography is a language more universal than words.”

A portion of the White Archive was first made accessible through a digitization and cataloguing project, begun in 2014 and funded in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). With future support, the complete holdings of more than 35,000 items will be made available, deepening the Archive as the definitive resource for White research and scholarship. In addition to the White Archive, the Princeton University Art Museum holds several other photographic archives, making it one of North America’s foremost teaching collections of historical photographs.

White’s archive entered the Museum’s collections during the nearly 30-year tenure of curator Peter C. Bunnell, who was a former student of White’s. In 1989, Bunnell curated Minor White: The Eye That Shapes.

The origin of the art collection at Princeton University nearly coincides with its charter in 1746. However, the Princeton University Art Museum, along with what is now the Department of Art and Archaeology, was not formally founded until 1882, positioning the University at the fore of the nascent discipline of art history in North America.

Today, with global holdings including nearly 100,000 objects, the Museum is among the nation’s leaders, and one of our most outstanding academic collections. The encyclopedic holdings range from ancient to contemporary art and concentrate geographically on the Mediterranean regions, Western Europe, Asia, the United States, and Latin America. A distinguished collection of Greek and Roman antiquities includes ceramics, marbles, bronzes, and Roman mosaics. Medieval Europe is represented by sculpture, metalwork, and stained glass. The collection of European paintings and sculpture includes important examples from the early Renaissance through the nineteenth century, which stand alongside a collection of prints and drawings that now numbers nearly 10,000 objects. The collection of twentieth-century and contemporary art—with a particular emphasis on undervalued artists—is supplemented by exceptional long-term loans whose histories are now intertwined with that of the Museum.

Along with the University's Department of Art and Archaeology and the Marquand Library, the Museum anchors a dynamic center for the study of art.