The Museum Project

The Museum Project

The Museum Project is a philanthropic association of American photographers, established in 2012 by the Californian photographers Robert von Sternberg and Darryl Curran, with the goal of expressing gratitude towards institutions that support the photographic art form. Through the project, participating artists or their representatives donate vintage and contemporary prints of their work to museum collections of their choice.

Since origination in October 2012, The Museum Project has donated in excess of 6,095 photographs to 215 institutional permanent collections of fine art in 50 American states, Australia, Canada, France, Great Britain, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.

In June 2020 the museum received a total of 58 works by 12 contemporary artists: Barry Andersen, Darryl Curran, Robert Fichter, Suda House, Victor Landweber, Kenda North, Sheila Pinkel, Bonnie Schiffman, Michael Stone, Robert von Sternberg, Melanie Walker, and Nancy Webber.

Robert von Sternberg

Human impact on the natural world is a recurring theme at the heart of Robert von Sternberg’s photographic practice. An avid traveller with a fondness for road trips, he focuses less on well-known tourist destinations than on the visual possibilities of overlooked roadside attractions and chance conjunctions. The surreal artificial lighting that illuminates the American nighttime often provides the definitive photographic images that von Sternberg seeks in his travels. Despite that in most scenes human figures are distant or absent, they feel crowded, as the roads, fences, signage and buildings are constant reminders of human imprint upon the land.

Barry Andersen

For more than thirty years Barry Andersen has been focusing on landscape photography with a special interest in the visible human impact on the land. Over the years, this has widened his pictorial and personal concept of beauty. In his most recent work, he explores the possibilities of digital technologies in landscape photography. By removing, replacing, altering, and enhancing he seeks a playful pictorial approach to photography. While some of the photographs within a series remain unedited records of the land, others are slightly manipulated in order to elucidate the visual experience. Barry Andersen is an Emeritus at Northern Kentucky University where he was a Professor of Art from 1975 to 2012.

Darryl Curran

A professional photographer since 1965, Darryl Curran is a pioneer of conceptual photography and has sought to expand the definition of the medium. Not limiting himself in subject matter or technology, he experiments with black and white, colour, analogue, digital and even camera-less photography. The idea that drives Curran’s work is the appreciation of photography as a time-based process. In his work he explores the history of photography from the 19th to the 21st century, using traditional methods of editing as well digital technology.

Robert W. Fichter

Robert W. Fichter was a student of anthropology at the University of Florida when he decided to change subjects and moved to the department of fine arts, where he studied painting, printmaking, and photography. Fichter had been the editor of his High School yearbook and continued this path at university: he was a co-founder of the student literary magazine Scope. Fascinated by ruins since childhood, the decay of civilisation became a recurring topic in Fichter’s photographs. In his landscapes, he explores the expressive possibilities of photography. Fichter also produced etchings and lithographs, worked as curator and was a professor at several universities across the United States.


Suda House

Suda House has been experimenting with the possibilities of photography for the past forty years. Turning an ephemeral moment into a permanent work of art, and thus capturing its complexities and meanings, is what she seeks to achieve in her photography. “Selection, observation, examination, intuition and anticipation form the basis for the ultimate capture of content and hopefully fulfilment of meaning within one’s image”, she says about her work process. She considers water, an element that is flowing and difficult to capture and contain, to be a perfect metaphor for the photographic experience. The physical power of water, its beauty and depth, but also the visual experience and the struggle humans face under water, are topics that she explores in her work. Suda House is a photographer living and working in San Diego, California. Currently, she is a Professor of Art and Photography at Grossmont College.

Victor Landweber

Victor Landweber’s photographs can be described as meditations on looking at and thinking about art. Since the 1970s he has been modelling his photographs after paintings, finding inspiration in Abstract Art, Minimalism and Pop Art. Later he was looking for everyday objects in his hometown Los Angeles that could be photographed as if they were art, anticipating his project Looks Like Art. After a break, Landweber returned to photography with a newfound enthusiasm for digital technologies and an eagerness to photograph works of art. After the collage project Auduboniana, in which he combined his photographs of post-industrial architecture with drawings of US ornithologist John James Audubon, he started his ongoing series Artist to Artist, works of which are displayed in this exhibition. Examining relationships and references, he aims to show an art historical network of artists and their intertwining lives and works.

Kenda North

Water plays a quintessential role in the work of Kenda North. In her photography people, flowers, and objects are floating underwater in a pool. The dramatic lighting, lack of gravity, and range of blue colours form an environment that is changing with the photographer’s every move. The men and women photographed under water are either floating weightlessly or are entangled in nets and fabrics. Kenda North draws the inspiration for her Flora Aquatilis series from still live painting. She literally translates the French nature morte into her work: the flower bouquets, having been used at events and returned to the florist, are dying. Yet, under water they are not still at all, but constantly moving in an ambiguous space of water and light.

Sheila Pinkel

By naming her body of work Sight Unseen, Sheila Pinkel makes it clear that despite its diversity, there is a unifying concept behind her art: making the invisible visible. This idea can be found in her work literally as well as figuratively, since she aims to depict the unseen in both the natural and the cultural world. First, she explored camera-less photography: images can be captured on photographic paper by casting shadows and manipulating light, or by chemically treating the surface of the paper. Between 1977 and 1983 she used xeroradiography, medically used for mammography, to further explore the invisible. Sheila Pinkel’s work includes documentary photography, installations, public art projects, and environmental sculpture. She is an Emerita Professor for Art and Art History at Pomona College, California.

Bonnie Schiffman

For more than thirty years, Bonnie Schiffman has photographed actors and directors, comedians, athletes, and musicians. The list of celebrities she worked with is long, and includes, among many others, Michael Jackson and Iggy Pop, Joni Mitchell and Salma Hayek, Muhammad Ali and Andy Warhol, Will Smith and Whoopi Goldberg. Her works covered the Rolling Stone, Newsweek and other magazines. The artists she worked with praise the energy Bonnie Schiffman brings to her sets as well as her ability to make her models feel at ease. As a result, we get a new, direct, spontaneous, and honest perspective on her subjects.

Michael Stone

Michael Stone was born in Detroit, Michigan, but he moved to Los Angeles in the late 1960s, earning a BA, MA as well as an MFA from the University of Califonia. As a photographer he combines his work with various artistic techniques: sculpture and painting, digital imagery, and elements and media that would traditionally not be used in photography. While his approach to photography is generally playful, it is also often a satirical comment on current political issues.
Michael Stone’s photography won him several awards and recognitions. Moreover, he taught photography at various art schools and universities. 

Melanie Walker

Melanie Walker is an artist who has been exploring various kinds of photographic techniques, experimenting with different media and artistic processes for the past fifty years. Especially in recent years she became more and more invested in public art and the further exploration of mixed media in photography. The series “Mis-Nomer Pageant” (1990-1995) is a meditation on the prefix mis-, which refers to something wrong or incorrect, yet sounds exactly like the word “Miss”, the form of address for unmarried women. Playing with the ambiguity of the prefix, her works reflect on prejudices implied though language, and takes a stab at the very popular pageant culture in the USA.

Nancy Webber

Nancy Webber’s series “Life Imitates Art” is a long-time project that had its beginnings when Webber was still in college. As an art student in California and Florence, Italy she started seeing similarities between artworks and living human beings. Working with people she mainly encountered by chance, she recreated famous portraits and other works of art, focusing on poses and less on reconstructing the scene. She then juxtaposes her photographs with the original artwork, aiming to make art history more accessible and to remind the beholder that the paintings we perceive as objects, are depictions of real people. In almost forty years she recreated more than two hundred works of art.

Text | CC BY-NC | Julia Niewind, MNAHA

Publication date: 1st of December 2020

Last update: 24th of January 2024


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