Minneapois Institute of Arts
New Pictures at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Inside Stories on the Permanent Collection

Posted May 2, 2011

Eadweard Muybrdige Portfolio Donated Before Museum Exists

Eadweard Muybridge, American (born England) 1830 – 1904
Animal Locomotion Plate 519, 1887
Gift of Samuel C. Gale, William H. Hinkle, Albert Loring, Charles M. Loring, Charles J. Martin, and Charles Alfred Pillsbury 81.76.66

In 1887, Eadweard (correct spelling, but weird) Muybridge published his important series, Animal Locomotion, comprising nearly 800 plates showing both animals and humans in stop action. These images, among the first of their kind, were most useful to scientists who studied motion and artists who used them to draw and paint from.

Around 1900, fifteen years before the museum was founded, a group of six prominent Minneapolitans purchased a set of about one hundred and donated them to the Minneapolis School of Art, now the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Among these civic-minded men were Charles M. Loring, the father of the Minneapolis park system and Charles Alfred Pillsbury, founder of a prominent flour milling company that still bears his name. Presumably, the material was well used by both students and faculty of the school for many years, but by the 1970s it had fallen into disuse. Consequently, Ted Hartwell, the new curator of photographs at the Institute, shepherded them over to the museum for safekeeping. They were formally accepted into the museum’s permanent collection in 1981, nearly a century after their creation, and now form one of our strengths in nineteenth-century photography.

Our group of eighty-three plates includes images of men, women, and children (both clothed and unclothed), and animals such as horses, buffalo, lions, tigers, and birds. The one pictured here features Muybridge himself going through two activities, and is on view through August 28, in the exhibition “Facing the Lens: Portraits of Photographers.”

Christian A. Peterson, associate curator of photographs