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Dartmouth Acquires Complete Archive of Acclaimed Photojournalist James Nachtwey

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1993.

Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1993. During the civil war in Yugoslavia, the city of Mostar became the scene of a bitter conflict between ethnic Croats and Bosnians. The fighting took place at close quarters— from house to house, room to room, neighbor against neighbor. 

Kabul, Afghanistan, 1996.

Kabul, Afghanistan, 1996. A woman dressed in a traditional burka mourns for her brother, who was killed in a Taliban rocket attack during the siege of Kabul. 

Gitarama, Rwanda, 1994.

Gitarama, Rwanda, 1994. A man who had been held prisoner in a Hutu concentration camp had just been liberated by the advancing Tutsi guerrilla army. His face bore the scars of extreme mistreatment. 

Hood Quarterly, autumn 2016

The Hood Museum of Art has acquired the complete archive of James Nachtwey, an award-winning photojournalist who has spent over 35 years documenting conditions in some of the world’s most dangerous conflict zones. This acquisition brings to Dartmouth a photography collection of great historical significance, encompassing every photograph taken by Nachtwey over the course of his nearly four-decade career (including numerous unpublished photographs and negatives), along with all future photographs taken between now and the end of his working life. As part of the acquisition, Dartmouth will look for ways to support cross-disciplinary study of this important collection and establish the museum and Dartmouth as one of the world’s leading institutions for the study and exhibition of photojournalism.

A member of Dartmouth’s Class of 1970 and one of the leading photojournalists of his generation, James Nachtwey has amassed an important body of work that documents violent conflict, political strife, natural disasters, global poverty, and public health threats in locations as diverse as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, Gaza and the West Bank, Indonesia, Iraq, Kosovo, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, and the United States. These harrowing conditions are captured in an archival collection that includes nearly 330,000 photographic negatives, 170,000 digital image files, 7,200 exhibition-quality prints, 2,000 large-format works, 25,500 small-scale prints, 12,500 contact sheets, and much more. The historical and geographic breadth of Nachtwey’s archive offers extensive opportunities for engagement with nearly every academic department at Dartmouth, which will be supported by the development of digital resources and by extensive exhibition and educational programming at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth’s John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, and other campus centers.

“I hope that my archive will inspire future generations to approach the world with a perspective based on a concern for social justice and human dignity,” said Nachtwey, who is in residence at Dartmouth as a provostial fellow. “My time on campus has reminded me of Dartmouth’s abiding commitment to these values, which—along with the Hood Museum of Art’s exemplary educational infrastructure—makes the school an ideal home for my archive.” In May of this year, Nachtwey was announced as the 2016 recipient of Spain’s prestigious Princess of Astur- ias Award for Communication and Humanities.

The addition of Nachtwey’s archive to the collection will significantly enhance the Hood Museum of Art’s already substantial photography holdings, which encompass approximately 4,000 images by such notable photographers as Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Subhankar Banerjee, Hans Bellmer, Edward Burtynsky, Julia Margaret Cameron, María Magdalena Campos-Pons, Renée Cox, Rineke Dijkstra, Walker Evans (who was an artist-in-residence at Dartmouth in 1972), Jane Hammond, David Hilliard, Lewis Hines, Lotte Jacobi, Nikki S. Lee, Susan Meiselas, Gordon Parks, Malick Sidibé, Ralph Steiner (Dartmouth Class of 1921), Joel Sternfeld (Dartmouth Class of 1965), and many others. The Hood’s existing photography collection includes three of Nachtwey’s most iconic photographs: Rwanda (1994), which shows a Hutu man disfigured by a machete; San Miguel Province, El Salvador (1984), depicting the horrors of the civil war in El Salvador; and World Trade Center (2001), Nachtwey’s firsthand account of the attacks on September 11, 2001.

James Nachtwey was born on March 14, 1948, in Syracuse, New York, and grew up in Massachusetts. In 1970, he graduated from Dartmouth, where he studied art history and political science. In 1976, he started work as a newspaper photographer in New Mexico, and in 1980 he moved to New York to begin a career as a freelance magazine photographer. His first foreign assignment was to cover civil strife in Northern Ireland in 1981 during the IRA hunger strike. Since then, Nachtwey has devoted himself to documenting wars, conflicts, and critical social issues, including healthcare and prison reform. He has worked on extensive photographic essays throughout Central America, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, India, Afghanistan, and the United States.

Nachtwey has been a contract photographer with Time magazine since 1984. He was associated with Black Star from 1980 to 1985 and was a member of Magnum from 1986 to 2001. He has had solo exhibitions at numerous museums and galleries, including the International Center of Photography in New York, Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome, the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, El Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid, Culturgest in Lisbon, FOAM in Amsterdam, Carolinum in Prague, and Hasselblad Center in Sweden, among others. He is also the subject of the Oscar-nominated documentary feature film War Photographer, which was directed by Christian Frei and released to critical acclaim in 2001.

His work is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Minneapolis Museum of Art, and Centre Pompidou, among others.

Nachtwey has honorary doctorate degrees from Dartmouth, Massachusetts College of Art, San Francisco Art Institute, and St. Michael’s College.

He has received numerous honors, including the Common Wealth Award, Heinz Foundation Award, TED Prize, Dan David Prize, Robert Capa Gold Medal (five times), World Press Photo award (twice), Magazine Photographer of the Year (seven times), International Center of Photography Infinity Award (three times), Bayeaux Award for War Correspondents (twice), and the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Grant in Humanistic Photography, as well as lifetime achievement awards from the Overseas Press Club, the American Society of Magazine Editors, and Time, Inc. In 2012, he was awarded the Dresden Prize, given annually to those who go above and beyond to prevent violence. This year Nachtwey received the Princess of Asturias Award.

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