The Collection

The Museum’s permanent collection offers a rich photographic heritage, both as an expressive medium and a documentary record. The collection holds more than 9,000 images and objects include works by Margaret Bourke-White, Alfred Stieglitz, and Ruth Bernhard among 850 other photographers, and a wealth of representative examples of different photographic styles, genres and techniques, from early 19th century daguerreotypes and albumen prints to pictorialism, cutting-edge documentary and photojournalism, and digitally constructed imagery. While the entire collection illustrates the complex and varied history of the medium, in terms of subject matter and genres, MOPA’s collection is particularly strong in mid-twentieth century Soviet Russian photography, and social documentary photography and photojournalism.

MOPA’s archive has been viewed in much broader terms than as a mere repository designed to protect and preserve historic work. All of the materials in its collection are regarded as important community assets, and adjuncts to its exhibition and educational programs, reflecting its curatorial tenet that, “although art objects are carefully preserved within the museum space, the collection as a whole is held by the public, representing who we are and what we value as a culture.”

Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Works

Nineteenth-century works by Matthew Brady, Jeremiah Gurney, Julia Margaret Cameron, Hill & Adamson and expeditionary photographers Francis Frith, Samuel Bourne and John Thomson; early 20th-century holdings by Alfred Stieglitz, Clarence White, Edward Steichen, Eugene Atget, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Paul Strand, Richard Throssel, Peter Henry Emerson and Lewis Hine; and World War II and Depression-era images by such artists as Berenice Abbott, Weegee, Lisette Model, Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, Horace Bristol, André Kertész, Henri Cartier-Bresson, August Sander, Ben Shahn and photomontage work by John Heartfield.


Social documentary and photojournalism are represented with images by W. Eugene Smith, Margaret Bourke-White, Susan Meiselas, Alex Webb, Charles Moore, Hansel Mieth, Max Yavno, Don Bartletti, and James Nachtwey. The collection also represents a number of important Latin American artists, including Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Lazaro Blanco-Fuentes, Mario Cravo Neto, Graciela Iturbide, Alberto Korda, Miguel Rio Branco, Sebastião Salgado, Rafael Serrano, Mario Algaze, Flor Garduño, and Mariana Yampolsky.

*Please note that only certain selections from the permanent collection are on view.

MOPA is now MOPA@SDMA!Learn More


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.

We look forward to seeing you soon!