“Delete it immediately!” Sarah said to the young man who had just taken a surreptitious photo in the Kraus House. Photography, our tour guide insisted, was strictly forbidden inside. This will be a hard rule to enforce since photography has become almost an hourly activity for many in the Selfie Age. Labor intensive and time-consuming until quite recently, photography was born way back in 1839. The debate about whether it’s something you do to preserve family images and vacation memories or an art form is pretty much over. A new museum in St. Louis, the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum, celebrates “the evolution of the art (Japanese-like Washington Park, 1954, by André Kertesz) and science (X-rays, the Hubble, etc.) of photography”.
Actually it’s more appropriate to say, “New to St Louis.” In 1965 the Professional Photographers of America established a foundation that resulted in the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California, 12 years later. In 1985 its growing collection relocated to Oklahoma City. Recently, 5 moving trucks containing its 6,000 cameras and 30,000 photographs travelled to St Louis and the International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum opened in October, 2013 at 3415 Olive Street in its expanding arts district.
Why St. Louis? There are several answers. The best is the more than a dozen accredited college and university photography programs here. The St. Louis Camera Club, according to Enlighten, IPHF’s journal, is one of the oldest and largest in the United States. A current but temporary show celebrates local photographers. IPHF will draw from its 5-truck photo and camera collection to exhibit for longer times. A list of camera artists you’re likely to see is available at iphf.org under Hall of Fame, which lists more than 60 inductees but not my favorite, Garry Winogrand. Yet. iphf.org is also a great source of info about museum hours, what’s currently on display, etc. The hours are, by the way, relatively short. IPHF is free entry, non-profit, and already 5 Compass.
Part of IPHF’s manifesto is “to celebrate the achievements of the inventors, pioneers, and pivotal artists throughout the history of photography.” It’s doing that exceedingly well. Welcome to St. Louis.