May 2nd, 2011

MoMA Photo Director Peter Galassi to Retire After 30 Years

Peter Galassi, the outgoing Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator of the Department of Photography at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York City announced today that their photography department director will retire in July of this year.

During his 30-year career with MoMA, Peter Galassi organized or co-organized more than 40 exhibitions, highlighting the work of Andreas Gursky, Jeff Wall, Walker Evans, Lee Friedlander and Henri Cartier-Bresson among many other photographers.

Galassi is only the fourth person in the museum’s history to head it photography department. He succeeded the influential curator John Szarkowski, who served in the position from 1962 to 1981.

During his stint as chief curator, Galassi built MoMA’s permanent photography collection through major acquisitions, including 1,000 of Lee Friedlander’s photographs, Cindy Sherman’s complete Untitled Film Stills series, and more than 300 modernist images from the private collection of Thomas Walther. He also was a driving force behind the museum’s acquisition of postwar photography, which brought to the museum important bodies of work by Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Robert Frank, David Goldblatt, Nan Goldin, Jan Groover, Boris Mikhailov, Nicholas Nixon, Michael Schmidt, Judith Joy Ross, Joel Sternfeld, Thomas Struth, Jeff Wall, William Wegman, and Garry Winogrand.

“In addition to curating many important exhibitions and authoring publications, he has led to the growth and transformation of MoMA’s photography collection,” MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry in a statement.

The museum will begin a search to replace Galassi in the coming months.