Cincinnati Art Museum hosts ‘unprecedented’ Ansel Adams exhibit

An unprecedented exploration into the early career of celebrated photographer Ansel Adams will debut this September at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

“Discovering Ansel Adams” aims to shine a light on the artist’s growth from a teenage tourist with a camera in 1916 to one of the country’s most revered photographers in the 1940s.

Ansel Adams (American, 1902-1984), “A Man of Taos, Tony Lujan,” 1929–1930, gelatin silver print, image 12 5/16 x 8 15/16 in. (31.3 x 22.7 cm), Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Ansel Adams Archive, 78.187.6, © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

Drawn from the definitive Adams archive at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, the show presents roughly 80 photographs ranging in size from small prints to mural-sized prints of some of his most iconic views.

The exhibition will present the iconic images alongside a variety of personal ephemera ranging from handwritten correspondence and snapshots to pieces of photography equipment.

“Discovering Ansel Adams” will be on view from Sept. 27 through Jan. 19, 2025.

“After 20 years of research on Ansel Adams, it is a delight to share these spectacular prints and rare archival materials with the Cincinnati Art Museum’s audience,” said Rebecca Senf, foremost Adams scholar, organizing curator and chief curator at Center for Creative Photography.

‘Discovering Ansel Adams’

The collection highlights Adams’ professional evolution from a teenage musician to young mountaineer and his experiences in places like Yosemite National Parks and other areas scattered throughout the Southwestern portion of the United States.

Ansel Adams (American, 1902–1984), “Climbing Mt. Resplendent, Canadian Rockies, Mt. Robson Park,” 1928, gelatin silver print, image 7 15/16 x 5 7/8 in. (20.2 x 15 cm), Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Ansel Adams Archive, 85.122.31, © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

Ansel Adams (American, 1902–1984), “Climbing Mt.Resplendent, Canadian Rockies, Mt. Robson Park, 1928,” gelatin silver print, image 7 15/16 x 5 7/8 in.(20.2 x 15 cm), Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Ansel Adams Archive, 85.122.31, © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust

“I hope that learning about Adams’s personal and professional journey, seeing rarely shown prints, and exploring how the prints were made will enrich people’s appreciation of Ansel Adams images they already know.” 

Nathaniel M. Stein, CAM’s curator of photography at the Cincinnati Art Museum, noted the seldom-explored backstories into Adams’ professional development lend “new dimensions” into the understanding of him as an artist. The featured personal snapshots, letters, tools and working material provide an intimate look at the person behind the camera, he added.

“This exhibition has changed my understanding and deepened my appreciation of a figure I thought I knew,” Stein said. “I’m eager for the public to share in that experience.”

“Discovering Ansel Adams” is a featured project in the 2024 FotoFocus Biennial: “backstories.” Admission will be free for FotoFocus Passport Holders from Sept. 27 to Oct. 31. The exhibition will also be free for nonmembers every Thursday evening from 5 to 8 p.m. and during Art After Dark events in September and October 2024.

General admission is $12. Free for CAM members.

The Cincinnati Art Museum plans to release details about upcoming, related events in the near future.

Cincinnati Art Museum


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