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March 8th, 1999
Photography's Many Passages Are Explored in Museum Installation

Passage is an evocative word with varied meanings, at least three of which relate directly to photographic practice. As a synonym for "quotation" or "excerpt," it echoes the cropping and editing integral to photographic creation. When referring to movement or transition, as in "a passage overseas," the term describes a frequent subject--exemplified in photographs such as The Steerage (1907) by Alfred Stieglitz--and an ongoing romance with travel that spurred the growth of photography and continues to drive a market for images of distant locales. Finally, as reminders of mortality and disappearance, phrases such as "the passage of time" suggest the photographic process itself, which transforms present moments into mementos of the past. These divergent meanings will be explored in Passages: Photographs from the Collection, an installation on view from June 5 through November 14, 1999, in the Director's Gallery on the ground floor of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Featured will be some 60 works from the Museum's permanent collections representing the full range of photographic techniques and processes from 1840 to the present.

Included will be 19th-century movement studies by Eadweard Muybridge and Etienne Jules Marey, classic combinations of scientific inquiry and aesthetic sensibility; these works are recalled in NASA's large, color image of astronauts venturing through outer space. Photographs by Lewis Hine, Helen Levitt and August Sander, on the other hand, depict ordinary people whose lives are in transition: immigrants, the homeless, and the unemployed. Exquisite, artistic maritime scenes and seascapes taken by Gustave Le Gray or Charles Nègre in the 1850s will be shown alongside lavish travel albums created for tourists and colonial authorities by Felice Beato, Linnaeus Tripe and Francis Frith. By juxtaposing images conceived in vastly different contexts, Passages: Photographs from the Collection explores how photography shapes, and is itself shaped by, our ever-changing perceptions of reality.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is among the largest museums in the United States, with a collection of more than 227,000 works of art and more than 200 galleries presenting painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, decorative arts, textiles, and architectural settings from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States. Its facilities include its landmark Main Building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the Perelman Building, located nearby on Pennsylvania Avenue, the Rodin Museum on the 2200 block of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and two 18th-century houses in Fairmount Park, Mount Pleasant and Cedar Grove. The Museum offers a wide variety of activities for public audiences, including special exhibitions, programs for children and families, lectures, concerts and films.

For additional information, contact the Communications Department of the Philadelphia Museum of Art phone at 215-684-7860, by fax at 215-235-0050, or by e-mail at pressroom@philamuseum.org. The Philadelphia Museum of Art is located on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 26th Street. For general information, call (215) 763-8100.

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