9 February 2024 • Arts Frames of History
Students curate an exhibition of photos from the George Stephanopoulos Collection, showcasing major events and prominent individuals of the 20th century.
In a new exhibit on campus this spring, students delve into the history behind the iconic images contained in the George Stephanopoulos Collection.
Donated to HWS by journalist George Stephanopoulos, the nearly 3,000-photograph collection captures important historical moments and artistic movements of the 20th century, depicting politics and institutions, television and media, the Civil Rights Movement and the Great Depression, including the work of photojournalists who produced wire photographs for news outlets.
Last fall, Elizabeth Nafz ’24, Laila Selim ’24 and Mia Tetrault ’25 began working alongside Meghan L. Jordan, the Clarence A. Davis ’48 Visual Arts Curator, cataloguing and processing new additions to the collection. Moving each print from its temporary binders into official archival sleeves and boxes, the students learned to handle prints professionally, as well as conservation best practices and professional collection management software.
“These photographs include a range of themes and subjects from the Vietnam War to the British royal family to political protests. It was an eye-opening snapshot of history that was exciting to uncover.” Elizabeth Nafz ’24
As they catalogued, they examined the historical context and helped prepare for this spring’s exhibit, “Frames of History: Selections from the George Stephanopoulos Collection,” scheduled to run from March 7 to April 13 in the Davis Gallery at Houghton House. Along with Naftz, Zachary Anson ’24, Masi Rey ’25 and Olivia Sumner ’27 will have the opportunity to continue to curate and install the exhibition as part of ARTH 203 Art Internship Exhibition this semester.
“The Stephanopoulos Collection provides an invaluable learning opportunity for students. Handling, caring for, and researching these historic documents, along with curating “Frames of History” to share them with the community, is a unique, exciting experience for all of us involved,” says Jordan, who is overseeing the exhibit.
“It was amazing to have the opportunity to catalog an interesting and important collection,” says Nafz, a history major who is also minoring in critical museum studies and environmental studies. “These photographs include a range of themes and subjects from the Vietnam War to the British royal family to political protests. It was an eye-opening snapshot of history that was exciting to uncover.”
“What I enjoyed most was working on a catalog booklet by choosing specific images from the collection,” says Selim, an architectural studies major with minors in critical museum studies and entrepreneurial studies. The booklet she created serves as her critical museum studies capstone.
Selim notes that the booklet she helped produce “is not just a visual catalog; it’s a profound historical record that vividly captures the essence of the Civil Rights Movement…highlighting key events and everyday moments alike. It showcases the raw intensity of emotions — from anger and frustration in the faces of protesters to the determined resilience in the eyes of community leaders. These images serve not only as a reminder of the hardships endured but also as a testament to the unyielding spirit of those who fought for change.”
A double major in media & society and American studies, Tetrault notes that the project helped develop her “critical eye” as she analyzed different processes of recording and presenting artwork. As she says, “working as an intern to catalog the George Stephanopoulos Collection was an incredible experience and opportunity.”
Pictured above, Nafz, Selim, Tetrault and Jordan catalogue and process photographs for the Stephanopoulos Collection.