The power of the image is celebrated in photo galleries and exhibits worldwide, as well as in a number of photography-specific museums. Groups can take advantage of everything from facility space to photography classes at many of these museums throughout the U.S.
In Tampa, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (www.fmopa.org), which debuted in 2001, collects, preserves and exhibits historic and contemporary works by nationally and internationally known photographic artists. Along with touring the galleries, groups can use the facility for a variety of functions.
“We rent the entire museum,” says Joyce M. Zevola, museum manager. “We can accommodate 150 for a cocktail party and if they wanted to do a sit-down dinner, we can hold 40 people for that. The space has a real nice flow to it, and is also flexible. We can set up a bar anywhere and there is also classroom space we can clear for food and drinks.”
The museum can also make arrangements for a docent tour or lecture for groups up to 50. For groups that want a more hands-on approach, the museum can offer photography workshops as well as photo safaris.
“If a group suggests something, we can provide an instructor,” Zevola says. “For the photo safaris, we’re in downtown Tampa, so we can use the riverwalk area, take a streetcar that goes to the historic neighborhood, Ybor City. We could develop a team-building program or competition, though we haven’t done anything like that yet.”
To set up a photography class, the museum’s classroom can fit about 25. There is also an option to set up the main gallery for lectures and presentations, seating 75. Though it is preferable that attendees provide their own equipment, there is some basic equipment at the museum, such as point-and-shoot cameras and laptops equipped with Photoshop.
For catering events, the museum has a relationship with the Tampa Club located on the top floor of its sister building, though clients can use outside caterers.
The Houston Center for Photography (http://hcponline.org) was founded in 1981 as a nonprofit organization and offers year-round exhibitions, workshops, publications, outreach programs, lectures and classes, and is home to an on-site library containing more than 2,500 books on photography as well as a digital darkroom.
The museum rents its gallery space for private events after its regular hours. Total capacity for the galleries is 225. The Critique Room is available to rent by the hour for meetings.
The Museum of Photographic Arts (www.mopa.org ) in San Diego boasts over 7,000 images in its permanent collection, with photographic styles including early 19th century daguerreotypes and albumen prints, cutting-edge photojournalism and digitally constructed imagery. There are some 850 photographers represented.
“Most popular is cocktail hour or a sit-down dinner,” says Melissa Pfeiffer, special events manager for the museum.
Groups can host receptions in the museum’s atrium, which transforms into an event space after-hours. Prior to the event, groups can arrange for a tour of the galleries during museum hours.
“Also, we have a theater space that showcases films and can be utilized as a lecture space or performance space,” Pfeiffer says.
The theater seats 226, while the atrium can hold 140 for a dinner or 200 for a reception. There is also outdoor patio space for pre-reception cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres, with a backdrop of Balboa Park.
“For some VIP groups or those looking for an elite experience, we do have a curatorial behind-the-scenes tour,” Pfeiffer explains. “Groups will meet with our executive director or director of exhibitions and go behind the scenes to see how the museum functions and see hidden gems part of the permanent collection.”
Another option for groups is to organize photography classes. Groups can use the classroom facilities for instruction and take their cameras to the streets, usually shooting within Balboa Park. Depending on the size of the group and level of photography desired, the museum does have some inventory of cameras that can be used. They can then return and share their photos for critique.
Rochester, N.Y., is home to one of the most well-known photography museums in the country, the George Eastman House International Museum of Film and Photography (www.eastmanhouse.org), which combines the museum with the house and gardens of George Eastman, founder of the Eastman Kodak Company.
“We can host everything from dinner parties and cocktail parties to corporate events and gala fundraisers,” says Allen Buell, special events director for the George Eastman House. “Every time VisitRochester has conferences in town, we’re always the No. 1 spot.”
The museum’s photography collection includes more than 400,000 photographs and negatives, representing more than 14,000 photographers, including a major collection of Ansel Adams’ early and vintage prints and one of the largest collections of daguerreotypes in the world.
There are a number of facilities for groups within the expanse of the 35,000-square-foot mansion, including two theaters. The Art Deco Dryden Theatre can host film screenings, meetings or corporate presentations, while smaller groups can use the Curtis Theatre. Small groups can also use the Eastman House Council Room. The Potter Peristyle, located on the museum’s first floor, is available for receptions and seated dinners. Larger groups can overflow into the sky-lit, three-story Light Court.
For outdoor options, the Italianate terrace garden is open to groups for receptions. Private group tours of the gardens are also available, as are tours of Eastman’s Colonial Revival-style mansion.
The George Eastman House International Museum of Photography & Film and the International Center of Photography (www.icp.org) in New York City created a formal alliance about a decade ago, to make their collections and programs more widely available to the public. The ICP offers space for corporate events, dinners, cocktail receptions, exhibition previews, fashion shows and private tours. The museum offers 7,000 square feet and can host cocktail parties for up to 400, or seated receptions for 100.
Another well-known institution, Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Photography (www.mocp.org), caters to groups with a custom-designed viewing of prints from the museum’s permanent collection and Midwest Photographers Project or a docent-led exhibition tour.
The museum’s permanent collection is comprised of more than 9,000 photographs and photographically-related objects produced since 1936, while the Midwest Photographers Project is a rotating archive of contemporary work by artists living and working in the Midwest.
Another option is the Griffin Museum of Photography (www.griffinmuseum.org) in Winchester, Mass., which spotlights international exhibits as well as photography from founder Arthur Griffin.
The museum’s gallery is open to group events such as cocktail receptions, with space for up to 100 indoors. Outdoors, the private lawn can be used for receptions and catered affairs, with a setting on Judkins Pond.
Several photography museums can offer group tours, such as the Southeast Museum of Photography (www.smponline.org), located on the main campus of Daytona State College in Florida. The facility also has a theater-style lecture area and seminar rooms. Small groups can sign up for community workshops with advanced notice.
The UCR/California Museum of Photography (www.cmp.ucr.edu), at the University of California Riverside, also can offer group tours.