The Ansel Adams photography exhibit has been up since the beginning of the year, celebrating UCSD’s 50th anniversary, but if viewers don’t want to miss out, they should catch the exhibit before it closes Oct. 30.
The exhibit is located at Geisel Library and free to viewers during library hours, which can be found online here.
Ansel Adams was commissioned in 1963 by the University of California to photograph the nine existing UC campuses at the time for the UC Centennial publication titled the Fiat Lux in 1967.
Adams shot over 70 images of the UCSD campus, but only 10 were included in the Fiat Lux. The UCSD exhibit is showing 16 of Adams’ photographs, including iconic shots of the Scripps Pier and the breezeway between Bonner and Mayer halls, as well as portraits of some of the early staff members, including Nobelist Harold Urey and Walter Munk, who is still on UCSD staff, according to Lynda Claassen, director of Mandeville Special Collections Library.
Claassen was the one who voted for and organized the exhibit, saying, “The time was right. The campus was doing a lot of historical things for the 50th anniversary; it was such a great excuse.”
Until now, all the photographic negatives of Adams’ UC collection have been held at UC Riverside’s Museum of Photography, but after the exhibit closes, the UCSD collection will remain at the La Jolla campus, Claassen said.
The UC Riverside Museum of Photography holds the largest cache of Adams’ work outside the official Ansel Adams archive at the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona, according to Leigh Gleason, museum curator of collections for UC Riverside.
The Fiat Lux collection held at UC Riverside is “a wonderful slice of life showing the college campuses at an extremely optimistic and exciting time. Some campuses are hardly recognizable from how they looked 50 years ago,” Gleason said.
The young UCSD campus comes alive with the great black and white contrast Adams is known for, Claassen said. “You can look at some of these images in books, but it’s an incredible collection, in an incredible building, that most folks haven’t had the chance to see.”
The collection has similar qualities, but at the same time is very different from what many associate with traditional Ansel Adams prints, Gleason said, “It’s still Ansel, but it’s Ansel constrained to the people and locations of our university system.”
Kathy Hatch, gallery director at in La Jolla, commented that the Ansel Adams exhibit is “a must-see exhibit to witness the advent of conservation photography.”