Issue #170  3/10/2010
Magnum Archive Collection of Nearly 200,000 Press Prints Comes to The Harry Ransom Center

Early last month Magnum Photos, Inc., MSD Capital, L.P., and the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin jointly announced a landmark partnership under which the Magnum Archive Collection, which contains nearly 200,000 original press prints of images taken by world-renowned Magnum photographers, will be preserved, catalogued, and made accessible by the Ransom Center. The collection will reside at the Ransom Center pursuant to an agreement with its new owner, an affiliate of MSD Capital, which recently acquired the prints from Magnum Photos.

The vintage prints in the Collection have been amassed since the 1930s and include images of major world events, celebrities, family life, poverty, religion and social affairs by Magnum photographers including Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Elliott Erwitt, Leonard Freed, Bruce Davidson, Rene Burri, Eve Arnold, Dennis Stock and more than 80 others.

Last year, after discussions between Magnum and various museums and institutions, the archive was sold to MSD Capital, a private investment firm formed in 1998 originally for the family of Michael S. Dell, who is chairman and CEO of Dell, Inc. While a price for the collection has not been announced by the parties involved, the New York Times reported that the Ransom Center had insured the collection for more than $100 million.

The new owners have reached an agreement with the Harry Ransom Center to place it at the Center for study and exhibition for at least the next five years.

Michael Dell commented, "I am so pleased to be able to entrust this significant body of work to the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas for research, study and exhibition. The Ransom Center has a well-known record of excellence and is ideally suited to manage the archiving and study of such a substantial and important collection. Having this incredible collection in Austin is especially exciting to me."

"This is a singularly valuable collection in the history of photography," said Thomas F. Staley, Director of the Ransom Center. "It brings together some of the finest photojournalists of the profession and spans more than a half century of contributions to the medium. We are delighted to make these remarkable materials accessible to researchers and students."