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Ansel Adams Retrospective to Premiere at the Cincinnati Art Museum

3/14/2024 12:00:00 AM

Discovering Ansel Adams Explores the Life and Legacy of America’s Most Celebrated Photographer September 27, 2024–January 19, 2025

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CINCINNATI —March 14, 2024—The Cincinnati Art Museum (CAM) will premiere an unprecedented exploration of the early career of Ansel Adams, demonstrating how, between 1916 and the 1940s, Adams developed from a teenage tourist with a camera into the country’s most celebrated photographer. Drawn from the definitive Adams archive at the Center for Creative Photography (CCP), Tucson, Discovering Ansel Adams will be on view from September 27, 2024–January 19, 2025.

The exhibition brings together approximately 80 photographs with unique ephemera including handwritten correspondence, snapshots, personal possessions, and photographic working materials. Featured photographs range from small, one-of-a-kind prints from Adams’s teenage years to jaw-dropping, mural-sized prints of his most iconic views.

Discovering Ansel Adams traces the artist’s professional evolution—sharing his journey from teenage musician to young mountaineer—as he experiences the American Southwest, imagines and learns how to communicate with a new national audience, and undertakes an epic quest to photograph America’s national parks.

Dr. Rebecca Senf, foremost Adams scholar, organizing curator, and Chief Curator, Center for Creative Photography shares, “After twenty years of research on Ansel Adams, it is a delight to share these spectacular prints and rare archival materials with the Cincinnati Art Museum’s audience. I hope that learning about Adams’s personal and professional journey, seeing rarely shown prints, and exploring how the prints were made will enrich people’s appreciation of Ansel Adams images they already know.”

Nathaniel M. Stein, Curator of Photography at the Cincinnati Art Museum, says, “It’s been a tremendous pleasure to work with Dr. Senf to bring the CCP’s unparalleled Adams holdings to Cincinnati. This exhibition has changed my understanding and deepened my appreciation of a figure I thought I knew. I’m eager for the public to share in that experience.”

The exhibition will offer insight into Adams’s experiences in Yosemite and with the Sierra Club in his formative years, his early forays in the art of bookmaking and his commercial endeavors in his beloved Yosemite National Park and elsewhere in the American West. These seldom-explored backstories lend new dimensions to the Adams we know, and to his guiding mission to communicate the power and importance of America’s wild places to broad audiences. Personal snapshots, letters, tools and working material provide an intimate look at the person behind the camera.

The exhibition will be on view in the Thomas R. Schiff Galleries (234 and 235). Tickets are $12, with discounted rates for students, children and seniors. Save $2 when purchasing tickets online. Admission is free for members. Admission is also free for FotoFocus Passport Holders from September 27–October 31, 2024. The exhibition will be free for nonmembers every Thursday evening from 5–8 p.m. and on Friday, September 27, 2024, and Friday, October 25, 2024, from 5–9 p.m. during Art After Dark. Photography is permitted, but no flash.

Discovering Ansel Adams is a Featured Project in the 2024 FotoFocus Biennial: backstories.

Discovering Ansel Adams is organized by the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, with the support of The Museum Box.

Support for this 2024 FotoFocus Biennial Featured Project was provided by FotoFocus.

Upcoming, related events to be announced. Visit for the latest information.


About the Cincinnati Art Museum

One of the oldest arts institutions in the United States, and the first purpose-built art museum west of the Allegheny Mountains, the Cincinnati Art Museum features a diverse, encyclopedic art collection of more than 73,000 works spanning 6,000 years. In addition to displaying its own broad collection, the museum conducts extensive research and creates and organizes several exhibitions each year. It also hosts national and international traveling exhibitions. Through these critical projects and art-related programs, activities, and special events, the museum contributes to a more vibrant Cincinnati by inspiring its people and connecting its communities.

The Cincinnati Art Museum is supported by the generosity of individuals and businesses that give annually to ArtsWave. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Cincinnati Art Museum with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Cincinnati Art Museum gratefully acknowledges operating support from the City of Cincinnati, as well as its members. Free general admission to the Cincinnati Art Museum is made possible by a gift from the Rosenthal Family Foundation. Exhibition pricing may vary. Generous support for the museum’s extended Thursday hours is provided by Art Bridges Foundation’s Access for All program. Parking at the Cincinnati Art Museum is free. More information is available at


About the FotoFocus Biennial:

The FotoFocus Biennial, now in its seventh iteration, activates over 100 projects at museums, galleries, universities, and public spaces throughout Greater Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, and Northern Kentucky in October 2024. Each Biennial is structured around a unifying theme; the 2024 theme, backstories, focuses on stories that are not evident at first glance.

FotoFocus welcomes global artists, curators, critics, educators, and visitors to Cincinnati with exhibitions, talks, performances, screenings, and panel discussions during its Opening Program Weekend, September 26–28, 2024.