Photographer and philanthropist Judy Glickman Lauder has given a gift of more than 600 photographs to the Portland Museum of Art, the museum recently announced. The collection includes works by major 20th-century photographers such as Gordon Parks, Richard Avedon, and Margaret Bourke-White, along with some of Glickman Lauder’s own pictures, and will be shown in an exhibit in October 2022.
“To have her trust us with this collection, and partner with the Portland Museum of Art, is one of the proudest moments of my career,” said museum director Mark Bessire. “Judy highlights the power and potential and even responsibility of photography.”
Glickman Lauder’s work as a photographer appears in over 300 public and private collections, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her photographs have been published in a number of books, most recently “Beyond the Shadows: The Holocaust and the Danish Exception,” which features 30 years of photographs of concentration camps and portraits of people involved in the rescue of Danish Jewish survivors. She lives in Maine, serves on the museum’s board, and has been an active member of the Maine photography community for years, said Bessire.
In an e-mailed statement to the Globe, Glickman Lauder said she became interested in photography because of her father, Irving Bennett Ellis, a doctor and photographer whose work also appears in the collection. She began collecting photographs early in her life and continued to do so with her husband, Leonard A. Lauder.
“He and I agree that the joy of any collection isn’t just one picture or the other but that common thread that helps connect, inspire, and spark emotion and learning,” Glickman Lauder said.
Bessire called Glickman Lauder’s gift “a dream come true,” noting that it allows the museum to showcase photography as an art form, along with its other collections.
“For me, this collection is all about humanity,” Glickman Lauder wrote. “It’s that full spectrum of the human experience . . . and to me that has always been the beauty of this medium.”
The 600-plus photographs will make up “Presence: The Photography Collection of Judy Glickman Lauder,” curated by Anjuli Lebowitz, the inaugural Judy Glickman Lauder Associate Curator of Photography.
“This is the first specific curator whose job is just photography,” Bessire said. “We needed that job to support this collection coming in, and Judy made that happen.”
Lebowitz, who previously served in the curatorial departments of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said she’s excited to be curating this new exhibit.
Though she has met Glickman Lauder a few times, “the primary way that I’ve gotten to know her is through these objects,” Lebowitz said. “You really get a sense [of] what draws someone to something.”
Lebowitz said that while the collection focuses on mid-20th-century photography, the content varies. “To characterize it I think would give it short shrift, but there is this really amazing group of 20th-century photographs that she’s pulled together.”
The museum recently purchased two additional buildings, Bessire said, and with the recent donation there’s talk of adding a photo center.
“Hopefully, this collection will add to that vibrancy and provide joy and inspiration to locals and tourists alike,” Glickman Lauder said, “cementing Portland as a true destination for photography in addition to all the other amazing things that this city is known and loved for.”
Sam Trottenberg can be reached at [email protected]