Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography

The Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, located in the nation's capital, is Canada's only federal institution devoted solely to the collection, exhibition and promotion of the photographic medium. As such, it is the country's foremost advocate of artistic and documentary photography.

Although officially established by Parliament in January 1985, the CMCP's extended history dates back to World War II. Among federal Canadian institutions it is, in effect, the direct descendent of the NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA's Still Photography Division, which was founded in 1941. By the 1970s, however, the Division had turned increasingly away from commissioning official government photography toward collecting images of self-conscious expression. It was reconstituted in 1985, under the direction of Martha Langford, as the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography and affiliated with the NATIONAL GALLERY OF CANADA. In 1992 CMCP became a museum in fact as well as in name with the opening of its own prominently located Ottawa building, down the street from the houses of Parliament. Martha Hanna has served as the museum's director since 1994, overseeing its program of exhibitions, collection, publications and public programs.

CMCP's stated mandate is to promote contemporary Canadian photography both as a documentary and artistic medium. It fulfils that directive through a program of collecting, exhibitions, publications and public programs. By the beginning of 2009 the museum's collection held more than 160 000 items, including approximately 17 000 prints and multimedia pieces as well as NFB negatives and transparencies dating from 1962 and after (earlier NFB material is in the collection of the LIBRARY AND ARCHIVES CANADA).

Among the hundreds of photographers in the collection, CMCP has significant holdings of work by Sam TATA, Robert BOURDEAU, EVERGON, Jennifer Dickson, Michael Semak, Robert Frank, Sandra Semchuk, Barbara ASTMAN, Michael CAMPEAU, Raymonde APRIL, Lynne Cohen, Arnaud Maggs, Pierre BOOGAERTS, GENERAL IDEA, Gabor SZILASI, Orest SEMCHISHEN, David MacMillan, Clara Gutsche, Donigan Cumming, David Askevold, Hohnn Massey, Taddeus Holwnia, Edward Burtynsky, Larry Towell, Susan McEachern, Diana Thorneycroft, Roy KIYOOKA, Shelly Niro, Roy Arden, Jin-Me Yoon, Mikah LEXIER, Greg Girard, Carlos and Jason Sanchez, Nicholas Baier, Scott McFarland, Geoffrey James, Chris Lund, Stephen Livick, Sarah Anne Johnson and David Neel. The museum exhibits approximately 4 shows each year, including both monographic and group exhibitions. Most are shown not only at the museum itself but tour extensively across Canada.

Acknowledging the importance of publications as a crucial vehicle for photography, the CMCP regularly produces catalogues to accompany exhibitions. Its publications program extends a tradition of publishing that began with the NFB and such editions as Contemporary Canadian Photography from the Collection of the National Film Board and continued with numerous exhibition catalogues and monographs. The museum also promotes photography through extensive education programs aimed at both children and adults.