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Michael E. Hoffman (1942–2001) was appointed as founding curator of the Museum's Alfred Stieglitz Center in 1968. The center, created to actively promote photography within the broader context of an art museum, was established through a generous gift from Dorothy Norman of more than eight hundred photographs and photogravures by artists such as Alfred Stieglitz, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Minor White, and others.
Over the next thirty years, Hoffman organized for the Museum a succession of groundbreaking exhibitions that traveled internationally and were accompanied by catalogues published by Aperture Foundation, where Hoffman became publisher in 1965 and served as executive director until his death. During his curatorial tenure, the Museum's holdings grew to include more than fifteen thousand photographs, many of them acquired from those same exhibitions.
Hoffman's practice of collecting and exhibiting large bodies of work to represent every phase of a photographer's evolution brought a unique character to the Museum's photography collection. He chose to follow the spirit of Alfred Stieglitz, developing direct, personal collaborations with living photographers by displaying, publishing, and acquiring their work. The groups of photographs on view here, acquired by gift and purchase for the Museum's collection, pay tribute to Hoffman's abiding vision of the importance of photography as an art form and as a powerful expression of the human spirit.