Malcolmson Collection

The Malcolmson Collection spans the history of photography from the 1840s, with works by inventor William Fox Talbot, to the 2000s, with works by contemporary artists Scott McFarland and Ian Wallace, among others, and includes representative photographs from each of the significant periods and styles of the history of the medium. The collection highlights photographers known for creating a unique photographic visual language, including Eugène Atget, Harry Callahan, Julia Margaret Cameron, László Moholy-Nagy, Man Ray, Aleksandr Rodchenko, John Vanderpant and Edward Weston.

Our decision to collect historic photography was driven by an intuitive sense that there were works...whose aesthetic value and accomplishment were unrecognized. Collecting in this area has been an amazing and remarkable voyage of discovery.”

— Harry and Ann Malcolmson

This web resource currently features 180 works from the collection. A number of works from the collection were on view at the AGO from May 1 – September 14, 2014. Click here for the exhibition archive.




Harry and Ann Malcolmson began collecting photography in earnest in 1989. Guided by personal sensibility, they built a collection of exceptional works by those innovators who helped define what is possible in photography in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The collection includes 279 photographs, ranging from 1843 to 2011, by 110 artists.

Regarded as one of the most important collections of historical photography in Canada, the core of the Malcolmson Collection is comprised of bold experimental photographs by such artists as Eugène Atget, Jaromír Funke, Tina Modotti, László Moholy-Nagy and Ian Wallace, among others.

There are seven artists to whom the Malcolmsons made a particular commitment by acquiring more than five works each: Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Bill Brandt, Robert Frank, André Kertész, Man Ray, Aleksandr Rodchenko and John Vanderpant. Their works feature a range of approaches and reveal the variety of Modernist visions, often in the context of broader art movements such as Surrealism, Constructivism and post–World War II Expressionism. The photographs explore notions of how to see a city, how to reveal subconscious impulses and how to construct a new world.

The Malcolmsons have also brought together works by contemporary photographers—many Canadian—whom they felt were particularly connected to the medium’s history: Max Dean’s homage to Robert Frank; Ian Wallace’s retracing of Charles Marville’s steps in Paris; and Kristan Horton’s reimagining Stanley Kubrick’s film Dr. Strangelove. The collection also embraces a strong group of press photographs—yet another expression of Modernism.



About the Malcolmson Collection

Harry and Ann Malcolmson discuss the highlights of their collection.

Becoming Collectors

Harry and Ann Malcolmson talk about the process of collecting.

Finding a New Home

Harry and Ann Malcolmson explain why they chose the AGO as the new home for their collection.

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