Collection Theme

W. Eugene Smith

W. Eugene was a highly celebrated photographer best known for his legendary photo-essays in Life magazine in the 1940s and 1950s.

Soon after resigning from the magazine, he accepted a three-week assignment to produce 100 photographs of Pittsburgh for noted author Stefan Lorant, who was working on a book that would commemorate the city’s bicentennial. Smith discovered that Pittsburgh was a visually fascinating place and stayed a year, during which he created thousands of photographs for what would become the most ambitious photographic essay of his life. More than 500 of these photographs are in the museum’s permanent collection, and many were included in a major exhibition Dream Street:  W. Eugene Smith’s Pittsburgh Project. Presented in Pittsburgh in 2001–2002, this exhibition traveled to the International Center of Photography in New York, the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona, and finally the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.