About the Museum / Ted Hartwell (1933-2007)
Hartwell Memorial Scholarship Fund
In memory of Ted Hartwell, a scholarship fund has been established at The University of Minnesota. The goal is to raise $25,000 for a permanent scholarship fund in his name. Please send donations to:
MIA's Founding Curator of Photographs Dies
July 11, 2007: Long-time curator, Ted Hartwell, who founded the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ Department of Photographs, died July 10, at age 73. Hartwell’s career at the museum spanned 45 years. He was founding Curator of Photographs, a pioneer in recognizing photography as fine art, and a champion of some of the world’s greatest photographers.
In 1962, Hartwell became chief photographer at the MIA, recording works of art for documentation and publication. He had previously honed his photography skills while serving in the United States Marine Corps as an aerial photographer in Korea and Japan. By 1972, he was named the MIA’s first Curator of Photography and empowered to begin a permanent collection of photographs. Today the collection comprises approximately 10,000 photographs, spanning the history of photography, and representing more than 900 photographers.
Hartwell’s work at the museum included curating groundbreaking exhibitions and retrospectives of internationally known photographers such as Richard Avedon, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Werner Bischof and Marc Riboud, and promoting the careers of local artists Tom Arndt, Stuart Klipper, and Alec Soth. In 1990, he organized the exhibition celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Magnum Photos, titled “In Our Time,” which traveled internationally.
In a 2002 interview published in Arts magazine (the museum’s membership magazine) Hartwell reflected on highlights from his long career at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. He was particularly proud of the Richard Avedon exhibition he organized at the MIA in 1970, the photographer’s first solo show. “The works weren’t his fashion photos; they were more personal,” he recalled. “It put a bookmark in his [Avedon’s] career and was a turning point. We extended tremendous control to him as a living artist.”
Alfred Harrison, Board Chair of the MIA, and long-time supporter of Hartwell, said, “The MIA owes a deep debt of gratitude to Ted. He was the inspiration and leader of our photographs department and made photography meaningful to everyone, regardless of their expertise. He introduced photographers who were not always well known and he curated many outstanding exhibitions throughout his career. Our personal sympathies and those of the Board of Trustees go to Ted’s family.”
Martin Weinstein, former MIA trustee, and Minneapolis gallery owner, commented, “Ted was universally recognized as one of the earliest major figures responsible for the acceptance of photography as fine art. At the same time he always remained for photographers, colleagues, collectors, and his family, the same kind, gentle, and self-effacing person who was almost unique in his demeanor. He was truly one of the nicest and most decent men I have known.”
Hartwell also served as an art consultant to many major corporations and institutions and individuals, as an inspirational teacher and lecturer, and as a juror in various external competitions. As contemporary photographer Alec Soth said, “Where else in Minneapolis could I talk to a guy who hung out with Richard Avedon and Henri Cartier-Bresson? Despite traveling in those circles, Ted was utterly approachable.”
Hartwell is survived by his wife, Carolyn Mary, their children, Theron, 8, and twins Franklin and Louise, 4; and his son, Joseph, 38, from a previous marriage. A son, Charles, preceded him in death. Dr. William Griswold, Director and President of the MIA, expressed his sadness at the loss of such a great colleague and friend and sends his condolences to his family. “Ted was truly an outstanding and exceptional man,” Griswold said. “The legacy of the collection he built at the MIA will live on for many generations.”