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MoPA Announces End of an Era   Print  E-mail 
Written by Fotomall Staff  
Tuesday, 04 October 2005

Director Arthur Ollman will retire after 22 years

        San Diego, Ca. - The Museum of Photographic Arts' Director Arthur Ollman announces today that he will retire from the museum after 22 years.  This is an historic moment for the museum, as Mr. Ollman was appointed the museum's founding Director in 1983.  Ollman has had a dynamic and distinctive tenure at the Museum of Photographic Arts (MoPA) and has seen the museum grow into an internationally renowned institution.  

        "The museum has given me far more than I could ever give back," said Ollman.  "I'm exceedingly proud of our accomplishments here.  I've worked with every one of my heroes in the art world, and have come to know many of them as close friends.  The people who have been here as supporters of MoPA have inspired me with their generosity."

        Mr. Ollman earned his B.A. in art history from the University of Wisconsin in 1969 and an MFA from Lone Mountain College, San Francisco in 1977.  In Oakland, he helped establish Camerawork, a contemporary photographic gallery, and was President of its Board of Directors between 1977 and 1983.  He became an internationally regarded photographer, exhibiting more than 30 one-person shows at museums including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, the Berkeley Art Museum, and the Kodak Salon Gallery, Tokyo.  In 1983, he was recommended by photographer Ansel Adams to become the Executive Director of San Diego's Center for Photographic Arts.  Hired to set the tone and direction of the center, to hire staff, and to create a world-class institution, Ollman began his work by writing the mission and changing the name to the Museum of Photographic Arts.  His appointment brought visionary leadership and instant credibility to the nascent museum. 

The museum had not yet begun to build its first small 7500 square foot space when Ollman began work at MoPA in 1983.  Upon completion of the museum space, the first exhibition, "Eugene Smith/Bern Schwartz," opened May 1st, and "Imogen Cunningham: A Centennial Selection" opened one month later.  Docent tours and photographers' lectures were the only education programs in those first years. 

Under Ollman's creative and farsighted direction, the museum has grown and developed with myriad accomplishments in its 22-year history.  Since MoPA's opening, 182 exhibitions have been hung in the museum's galleries; Ollman has curated over 100 exhibitions himself.  Within its first three years, the museum began to travel exhibitions around the world.  MoPA has sent its exhibitions to more than 30 American cities, six countries in Europe, and Japan, Canada and Mexico.  The museum has produced 20 catalogues.  The permanent collection now has over 9000 photographs encompassing the full spectrum of the photographic medium.  Education programs serve over 9000 children and 5000 adults each year with programs ranging from a School in the Park program, Exposure outreach classes, lectures, and workshops and camps that teach both photography and film.  Over 90,000 people attend the museum's exhibitions and programs each year. 

During the 1990s, Ollman led a $7.5 million Capital Campaign to expand the museum.  In 2000, the museum re-opened in a sophisticated facility with more than 31,225 square feet that includes additional galleries, a research library of more than 25,000 volumes, a classroom, and a state-of-the-art theater to fulfill the museum's mandate of presenting the arts of still photography, video and film. 

Ollman is proud of each one of MoPA's exhibitions, but there are a few that have been especially important to him.  After four years of collaborative preparation with the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson and the Friends of Photography in San Francisco, MoPA presented the exhibition "Points of Entry" from 1995-1996, an extraordinary three-part exhibition and catalogue focusing on the history of American immigration.  In 1990, he curated America's first bilingual retrospective of Manuel Alvarez Bravo's work; the exhibition traveled to eight cities in the United States.  His exhibition "The Duane Michals Show" traveled all over America.  In 2002, Ollman brought the first photographs ever made to America in the landmark exhibition "First Photographs: William Henry Fox Talbot and the Birth of Photography."      

"The museum is larger than any one individual, and I feel that I'm leaving it in healthy condition and functioning at the highest level," Ollman remarked.  "The staff has performed heroically and with great skill, and San Diego has provided the most fertile soil for the growth of this museum.  I'm confident that it will continue to grow and do important work long into the future." 

"Arthur's 22-year tenure has made MoPA what it is today, one of the finest museums in the world," said Mary Donnelly, MoPA's President of the Board of Trustees.  "I know of few people that have the depth of knowledge and passion for photography as he does.  He is loved and he will be missed."

Ollman hopes to pursue a number of options once he leaves the museum.  He will temporarily remain in the position during a nationwide search for a permanent successor.  A search committee has been formed to conduct the challenging search for his replacement.  His legacy at MoPA will continue for generations to come. 

Arthur Ollman

Arthur Ollman, photographer, Director and curator of the Museum of Photographic Arts, was born in 1947 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He earned a B.A. in art history from the University of Wisconsin in 1969 and an MFA from Lone Mountain College, San Francisco in 1977. He also studied at Columbia College, Chicago, 1970; Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, 1972; and the San Francisco Art Institute, 1974.      

From 1974-83 he lived in San Francisco and Oakland where he helped to establish Camerawork, a contemporary photographic gallery currently in its 31st year, and was President of its Board of Directors between 1977 and 1983. During that time he also created, directed and produced a photo history video project documenting older-generation Western photographers.

Ollman has been the director of the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego since its opening in 1983.  After overseeing construction of the new museum, he has been responsible for creating the exhibition schedules and lecture programs, curating exhibitions, and overseeing all museum operations.  He has curated more than 100 exhibitions for MoPA, including Ansel Adams: A Memorial Exhibition, 1984; Masters of the Street: Parts I, II, and III (1983, 1985,1987); Roy DeCarava: Between Time, 1986; Arnold Newman: Five Decades, 1986; Los Vecinos/The Neighbors, 1989; The Art of Manual Alvarez Bravo (co-curated with Nissan N. Perez of the Israel Museum, Jerusalem), 1990; The Duane Michals Show, 1990; Perfect Moments on Planet Earth, 1993; Points of Entry: A Nation of Strangers (co-curated with Vicki Goldberg); The Model Wife, 2000; and First Photographs: William Henry Fox Talbot and the Birth of Photography, 2002.

As an educator, his teaching credentials include: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 1976-78; Chabot College, Hayward, California, 1977-82. Since 1978 he has given classes and lectures at more than 20 universities, museum and workshops including four summers with Ansel Adams at his Yosemite workshops.

Ollman is the author of numerous essays and articles, published in exhibition catalogues and various scholarly publications.  Exhibition catalogues written by him include Samuel Bourne: Images of India; Arnold Newman: Five Decades; Persona; Seduced by Life: The Art of Lou Stoumen and Points of Entry: A Nation of Strangers. Ollman's catalogue essays include Revelaciones: The Art of Manuel Alvarez Bravo; Rosalind Solomon: Earthrites; William Klein: An American in Paris; Horace Bristol; Kenro Izu; Connie Imboden: The Beauty of Darkness; The Model Wife; and First Photographs: William Henry Fox Talbot and the Birth of Photography.

His photographs have been exhibited in more than thirty one-person shows since 1969, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1979; Berkeley Art Museum, 1984; Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston, 1984; and the Kodak Salon Gallery, Tokyo, 1988. His images have been featured in more than 45 group shows in major galleries and museums worldwide and are held in the collections of many museums, universities and libraries including Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris; George Eastman House, Rochester; Center for Creative Photography, Tucson; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; International Center of Photography, New York; the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C. In 1996, Ollman was commissioned, along with ten other artists, to produce work for an exhibition in Jerusalem, celebrating that city's 3,000th anniversary. He lectured and worked in both Israel and Jordan.

Press Opportunities
Interviews with Arthur Ollman may be scheduled with advanced request. Please contact MoPA's Public Relations Department at 619-238-7559, ext. 203 or via email (blackwell@mopa.org) with any press-related needs.

MoPA Information
The Museum of Photographic Arts is among the country's leading photographic arts institutions, with impressive holdings of the entire history of photography, its aesthetic movements and technological advancements.  The collection is strong in its 20th-century documentary work, specifically mid-20th-century Soviet Russian photography.  While the entire collection illustrates the complex and varied history of the medium, its major areas of strength are in modern and contemporary work, specifically in social documentary photography and photojournalism.    

"       Visit www.mopa.org for information about exhibitions, programs and special events
"       Hours:  Monday through Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Thursdays until 9 p.m.
"       Gallery admission: $6 adults; $4 students, seniors and military; FREE to members and children under 12.  Admission is free to the public on the second Tuesday of the month.

"       Docent Tours for student groups (elementary through college) are available free of charge with advance reservation. Tours for non-students are also available, with advance reservation, at a discounted admission rate.

The Museum of Photographic Arts is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is a member-supported, private, non-profit institution.  Additional support for museum programs is provided by the City of San Diego under a program managed by its Commission for Arts and Culture, the Community Enhancement Program of the County of San Diego, as well as the California Arts Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


Fotomall Magazine is a division of Photography for Fun. 2004 All rights reserved.
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