Education Center, Mezzanine, Theater 3
Lore Feininger. *Erich Salomon*. 1929. Gelatin silver print, 9 1/8 x 6 1/2" (23.2 x 16.5 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Thomas Walther Collection. Gift of Thomas Walther

Photography’s digital revolution represents the largest technological break in its history. As a result, artists, scholars, and curators are engaging in medium-based conversations with the practice and history of photography differently. A focus on materials and processes inflects the digitization of collections and archives, and these digital resources have offered fresh perspectives on historical material. Expanding scholarship in the field of photographic paper conservation and contemporary photographers’ increasing experimentation with traditional chemical processes are among the resulting trends. We invite photography curators, conservators, artists, and historians to consider how the digital revolution in photography is changing approaches to the medium’s history.


9:00–10:00 a.m. Coffee and arrivals

10:00 a.m. Welcome and introductions

10:20 a.m.–12:00 p.m. Virtual Vision: Digital Humanities Approaches to Researching Objects, History, and Collections

What unique perspectives and scholarly discoveries emerge from digital humanities presentations of historical collections?

  • Mitra Abbaspour and Kelly Cannon, The Museum of Modern Art
    Object:Photo. Modern Photographs from the Thomas Walther Collection, at

  • Dan Edelstein, Stanford University
    The Republic of Letters, at

  • Alice Carver-Kubick, Image Permanence Institute
    Graphics Atlas, at

  • Laura Wexler and Lauren Tilton, Yale University
    Photogrammar, at

  • Paola Antonelli, The Museum of Modern Art

12:00–1:30 p.m. Lunch

1:30–3:10 p.m. On a Silver Surface: Historical and Contemporary Practices with Gelatin Silver Prints

Contemporary conservation, scientific, and artistic gelatin-silver practices are renewing our relationship to 20th-century photography’s dominant medium.

  • Lee Ann Daffner, The Museum of Modern Art Diving Deep: Compiling Material Data from Gelatin Silver Photographs

  • Paul Messier, independent photograph conservator
    The expressive building blocks of photographic paper

  • Liz Deschenes, artist
    Current Work

  • Richard Benson, Yale University, emeritus
    Print Technology’s Ongoing Evolution

  • Respondent: Jim Coddington, The Museum of Modern Art

3:30–5:30 p.m. From Here On… A Roundtable Discussion on Modern Photography and Perspectives for the Future

Moderated by Maria Morris Hambourg, Lee Ann Daffner, and Mitra Abbaspour, The Museum of Modern Art

  • Virginia Heckert, Getty Museum

  • Andrés Zervigón, Rutgers University

  • Jason Hill, New York Historical Society

  • Respondent: Audrey Sands, The Museum of Modern Art

5:30–6:30 p.m. Walkthrough of Modern Photographs: The Thomas Walther Collection, 1909–1949

Led by exhibition curators Quentin Bajac and Sarah Meister

Reconsidering the Object is part of The Thomas Walther Collection project and is made possible through the generosity of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The symposium accompanies the launch of the publication Object: Photo. Modern Photographs: The Thomas Walther Collection, 1909–1949 and the digital humanities research platform, which launches on December 9th. In conjunction with the project, MoMA presents the exhibition Modern Photographs from the Thomas Walther Collection, 1909–1949, on view from December 13, 2014, to April 26, 2015.