Ransom Center Receives Biggest Donation Ever


UT’s Harry Ransom Center has long been an archival powerhouse that draws scholars from around the globe, with holdings including an original Gutenberg Bible and the first photograph ever taken. Now the center has received its biggest donation ever—a massive collection of photographs spanning 80 years of American and world history.

Made up of some 200,000 prints, the Magnum Photos Collection is the largest donation the center has received to date. The Ransom Center has housed the collection since its purchase from Magnum Photos in 2009 by Dell founder Michael Dell, ’84, and his wife Susan, Life Members; Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman; and John and Amy Phelan. A source familiar with the collection estimates that it’s worth more than $200 million.

The Magnum Collection spans several decades, including prints of memorable moments from the Civil Rights movement, the Spanish Civil War and Jackie Kennedy Onassis at JFK’s funeral. The collection also contains numerous celebrity portraits, such as those of Marilyn Monroe and Muhammad Ali.

“The Magnum Photos collection offers us a visual chronicle of our own recent past,” says Stephen Enniss, Ransom Center director. “Time and time again, the work of these photographers established the images through which we now understand our own history.”

The Magnum Collection will be readily available for inclusion in lectures and seminars, and will be promoted through upcoming exhibits. One of these, Radical Transformation: Magnum Photos In The Digital Age, is on display until Jan. 4. The Ransom Center is also planning to have Magnum photographers visit the Forty Acres to speak about their work and participation in the agency.

“The Magnum Collection will continue to be a resource for students and scholars hoping to understand the personal and collective story of life in the latter half of the 20th century,” Enniss says.

In this 1964 photo from the Magnum Collection, a fan recognizes Paul McCartney during the filming of A Hard Day’s Night in London. Photo by David Hurn.


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