BLOG   ·  March 18, 2022

Jerry Gardner, ​​Longtime MOPA Volunteer, Remembered for Making Photography Accessible

  • The Gardner Bilingual Fund to provide translation of gallery text for years to come
  • Gardner was a passionate collector of Russian and Eastern European photography

Longtime friend of MOPA Jerry Gardner, who passed away March 14, will be remembered for making photography more accessible to everyone. He was involved with the Museum as a volunteer and donor, gifting images from his collection to the Museum. Equally important, he also established the Gardner Bilingual Fund that supports bilingual translation of MOPA’s gallery text. His engagement with MOPA spanned nearly 30 years.

“Jerry was always interested in helping the Museum reach as many people as possible,” wrote Deborah Klochko, MOPA executive director and chief curator. 

He was also a passionate collector of Russian and Eastern European photography. Gardner began engaging with the Museum in the mid 90s, and was a founding member of MOPA’s collector’s club. Last year, MOPA’s membership team interviewed Gardner. There, he shared that his favorite exhibition was his own: Collective Restraint: Four Decades of Czech Photography. All works were drawn exclusively from the private collection of Gardner and his wife Mary Kay Gardner. Collective Restraint showed how political and social climate challenged and shaped artistic expression from the 1930s through 1960s in Czechoslovakia.

“I tried staying away from what was mainstream in the American collector’s circle,” Jerry shared in the interview. “Instead, I was drawn by work from Josef Sudek, best known for his photographs of Prague. This personal search for a dominant theme led me to discover Czech photographs … The more I looked into European photography, the more excited I got to fulfill that interest in abstract art and surrealism in Europe in the early 20th century. American collectors underappreciated artists from this period.”

Up until last year, he continued helping MOPA’s exhibitions and the staff. His skills with matting and framing works were reflected in numerous exhibitions over the years.

“We live in an ever-increasing visual world, and MOPA expands our knowledge of that world,” Gardner said.


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Welcome to the Museum of Photographic Arts at The San Diego Museum of Art!

As of July 1, 2023, the Museum of Photographic Arts and The San Diego Museum of Art have merged to become one unified institution. The Museum of Photographic Arts is now the Museum of Photographic Arts at The San Diego Museum of Art (MOPA@SDMA).

MOPA@SDMA remains a pay-what-you wish museum open Thursdays through Sundays 11:00 a.m.– 5:00 p.m.

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