Magnum Photo Cooperative Archive of Photographs Will Be Available to the Public

Henri Cartier-Bresson - Magnum

The New York Times is reporting, in an article by Randy Kennedy, that all of the Magnum photo cooperative images will be digitized.

“It will be the first time that the archive, which for the last several years had been crowded onto shelves at Magnum’s modest offices on West 25th Street, will be accessible to scholars and the public.”

“Magnum began digitally scanning its archive many years ago, and in 2006, the cooperative’s membership voted to begin exploring a sale, whose proceeds would be used to help reinvent Magnum for a new age.”

Magnum is renowned for the extensive array of photographers in it’s ranks who are responsible for many of the most evocative images of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Magnum Photographer Dennis Stock - Café de Flore 1958

“Then last year, … the archive was quietly sold to MSD Capital, the private investment firm for the family of Michael S. Dell, the computer tycoon. And the new owners have reached an agreement with the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin to place it there, for study and exhibition, for at least the next five years.”

The earliest pictures in the archive date from before Magnum’s founding, to the work of photographers like Capa during the Spanish Civil War. The latest are from 1998, when the cooperative stopped using press prints as a way to circulate its images. In between those years are images that make it seem as if a Magnum photographer was present at almost every significant world event — D-Day, the civil rights movement, the rise of Fidel Castro — and also around to capture almost every celebrity and newsmaker: Mahatma Gandhi, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, John F. Kennedy, Muhammad Ali.


A short (incomplete) list of my favorite Magnum photographers includes:
Eve Arnold,
Cornell Capa,
Robert Capa,
Henri Cartier-Bresson,
Bruce Davidson,
Ernst Haas,
Philippe Halsman,
Josef Koudelka,
Steve McCurry,
Susan Meiselas,
Sebastião Salgado, and
W. Eugene Smith.

Author: P U

3 thoughts on “Magnum Photo Cooperative Archive of Photographs Will Be Available to the Public

  1. I think you’ve misread this. The article seemed pretty clear to me – they’re digitizing their photos for their own use. And have sold the physical photographs to the Dell operation.

    Read the article carefully – it’s the physical shots that are available to the public. Nice, but different

    1. Hi Bilco,

      Thanks for the Comment.

      You are right.

      I had 2 slightly conflicting news feeds that I used for this post.
      One of the NYT feeds states:
      “The entire collection of pictures amassed by the Magnum photo cooperative will be accessible to the public.”

      Since I have no way to verify the details,
      I’ve edited the piece to only cover the points in agreement between the 2.

      Thanks for pointing out the discrepancy.


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