The MUUS Collection is a group of photography archives based in the United States that brings together bodies of work that mark major turning points in history. The growing archive of preeminent photographers that is ever evolving and expanding, currently includes nearly half a million images and supporting ephemera, including contact sheets, personal papers, manuscripts, publications, and more. MUUS Collection is a functional archive that showcases and elevates the works of the artists it represents.
The five main estates maintained by MUUS embody a wide variety of subjects and themes. Rosalind Fox Solomon’s incisive portraits shine a light on marginalized communities throughout the world, from documenting the American AIDS crisis of the 1980’s, to the effects of segregation in the American South. Deborah Turbeville’s unique photocollage and ethereal imagery transformed the view of fashion photography into an avant-garde art form, as the artist wove narrative stories through her works. Alfred Wertheimer’s early photographs of a 21-year-old Elvis Presley capture the singer on the cusp of superstardom, while demonstrating Wertheimer’s unique use of darkness—rather than light—to frame his images.
Similarly, André de Dienes’s images of Marilyn Monroe from her beginnings as Norma Jeane Baker through her transformation into the glamorous Marilyn showcase the evolution of a star, all the while showcasing his own evolution as a photographer, as he experimented with Surrealist themes and montage. Fred W. McDarrah’s photographs, from capturing the New York downtown scene (Andy Warhol, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac and more) to the aftermath of the infamous Stonewall Uprising, immortalizing the birth of the gay rights movement, and the March on Washington, underscored the power and importance of photojournalism.
There’s no singular genre tying these collections together, but they are each united in one element: their dedication to their craft. While each is notable for at least one or two series, MUUS uses their archives to unveils larger bodies of work from these artists that have been largely unknown. With exhibitions, publications, and other forms of scholarship, MUUS is finding new contexts to present these works from artists who have historically been viewed through too narrow a scope. As a part of the mission to preserve and share outstanding photography, MUUS also supports other photography-focused organizations through means such as grants, including funding research and preservation efforts, and donations, bequeathing works to major museums and smaller collections alike.
The steadfast mission of MUUS Collection is to not only preserve the legacy of each artist, but to expand upon it, collaborating with exceptional museums, galleries, curators, writers, and publishers worldwide to ensure that these extraordinary works receive the attention they deserve.