Metropolitan Museum Scores Arbus Archive

Priceless gift includes thousands of negatives, annotated prints
By Caroline Miller,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2007 9:10 AM CST
An advertisement for the Diane Arbus retrospective's tour to Minneapolis. The photographer's daughters have donated her complete archive to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.   ((c) Andrew Ciscel)
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(Newser) – Two years after New York's Metropolitan Museum mounted a landmark Diane Arbus retrospective, the photographer's daughters have donated her complete archives to the museum, reports the New York Times. The gift includes 7,500 rolls of film, hundreds of early photographs, and print sleeves Arbus annotated by hand before she committed suicide in 1971.

The bequest coincides with the Met's purchase of 20 iconic Arbus photographs, which the museum acquired from a San Francisco gallery that represents the estate. Experts estimated the price of the photos at around $5 million, but the value of the archive is incalculable. "Generally this kind of material doesn’t survive the artist," said a curator.