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Collecting photography

New Zealand public art galleries and museums began collecting photography as art in the late 1970s. Private collectors slowly followed suit, and today photography occupies a small but significant part of the art market. These developments were partly the result of photographers themselves campaigning for the acceptance of photography as a creative medium in its own right, with its own distinct aesthetic history.

Today, art in general has become less medium-oriented, with artists often using any materials appropriate to their purpose at the time. Many artists use photography but do not see themselves as photographers. Others identify themselves primarily as photographers and clearly draw on the artistic traditions of the medium in their practice.

Te Papa acquires work from both groups, as well as collecting a broad range of historical photography. 

This text was prepared for the Collecting Contemporary exhibition, December 2011.

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