The Family of Man
UNESCO Memory of the World
UNESCO Memory of the World
The Family of Man comprises 503 photographs by 273 artists from 68 countries and was created by Edward Steichen for the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Presented for the first time in 1955, the exhibition was conceived as a manifesto for peace and the fundamental equality of mankind, expressed through the humanist photography of the post-war years.Images by artists such as Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, Robert Doisneau, August Sander and Ansel Adams were staged in a modernist and spectacular manner.
Having toured the globe and been displayed in over 150 museums worldwide, the final, complete version of the exhibition was permanently installed in Clervaux Castle in 1994. Since its creation, The Family of Man has attracted over 10 million visitors and entered the history of photography as a legendary exhibition. In 2003, the collection was listed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register.
After a period of restoration of the original photographic prints and the renovation of the exhibition rooms - an installation signed by the interior designer Nathalie Jacoby (NJOY) and under the direction of the Department of National Sites and Monuments (SSMN) - the museum reopened its doors at the beginning of July.
From 1 March to 1 January Wednesday to Sunday
from 12:00 to 18:00
Closed on Monday and Tuesday, except public holidays
Wednesday to Sunday mornings from 10:00 to 12:00 reserved for groups and educational activities.
Normal rate: €6
Reduced rate: €4
Free up to 21 years of age
Entrance fee includes use of a multimedia guide (iPad mini).
The use of the iPad mini provides visitors with an audio guide, which also features interviews and further information on the collection, its history and layout, as well as video documents. The iPad guide is available in French, German and English.
Free guided tour every Sunday at 15:00.
on request in Luxembourgish, French, German, English or Dutch.
To make a reservation, please see the contact information below.
The documentation centre can be accessed during the exhibition's opening hours and holds a large selection of current and historical documents relating to the collection, Edward Steichen and the photographers who participated in the exhibition. Documents can be consulted on the spot.
Press contact Anne-Laure Letellier (head of communication) T. +352 52 24 24 282 - email@example.com Anke Reitz
THE FAMILY OF MAN
in the 21st Century: Reassessing an Epochal Exhibition
Castle Clervaux, Luxembourg
19 - 20 June 2015
With more than ten million viewers across the globe and more than five million copies of its catalogue sold, "The Family of Man" is one of the most successful, influential, and written about photography exhibitions of all time. It introduced the art of photography to the general public, one critic noted, "like no other photographic event had ever done." At the same time, the meanings and impact of "The Family of Man" remain highly contested among historians and critics of photography to this day. First presented in 1955 to a record audience at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the travelling exhibition is now on permanent display as a UNESCO Memory of the World document at the CNA exhibition site in Clervaux Castle in Clervaux, Luxembourg - the native country of the show's inventor and curator, the Luxembourg-American photographer, painter, and exhibition designer Edward Steichen.
The conference wants to reassess and discuss the exhibition's appeal and message, launched against the backdrop of Cold War threat of atomic annihilation. It also wants to indicate new ways in which the exhibition, as an artistic response to a historical moment of crisis, can remain relevant in the context of 21st-century challenges. For the first time in Steichen criticism, the scholars at this interdisciplinary conference will discuss a 1958 essay on "The Family of Man" by the Frankfurt philosopher Max Horkheimer. Horkheimer's appreciative assessment of the cultural value of the exhibition in the post-war world runs forcefully against the grain of the critical dismissals that have come to dominate accounts of Steichen's project ever since the publication of Roland Barthes's well-known review from 1957. The conference will offer reconsiderations of the achievement of "The Family of Man" and it will try to reassess the potentially radical role of the exhibition in intercultural communication in the historical contexts of both the mid twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.
Centre National de l'Audiovisuel (CNA), Schloss Clervaux, Clervaux, Luxemburg
New York University Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, Vereinigte Arabische Emirate
Trier Center for American Studies, Universität Trier, Deutschland
1955: exhibition of The Family of Man at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York
1955-1962: travelling exhibition, seen by 10 million people throughout the world
1964-1966: The US Government donates the last complete version of the travelling exhibition to Luxembourg. Edward Steichen visits his native country and expresses his wish for The Family of Man to be exhibited permanently at Clervaux Castle.
1974-1989: partial exhibition of the photographs at Clervaux Castle
1990s: restoration of the historical photographs
1994 (-2010): establishment of the collection as a permanent exhibition at Clervaux Castle
2003: inscription on the UNESCO Memory of the World register
September 2010: closure of the exhibition for renovation purposes
July 2013: reopening following renovation of exhibition rooms and restoration of photographs
The collection The Family of Man has enjoyed an eventful history, drawing 10 million visitors and
prompting enthusiastic and critical reactions alike. It constitutes an exceptional legacy that never ceases to generate stories and research.
The exhibition was created by Edward Steichen as a collection of snapshots and emotions that aimed to convey a message of peace in the midst of the Cold War. While the collection still bears the traces of its context of creation, visitor reactions continue to reflect the impact of these images, which remain relevant to this day. Some have even become icons in the history of photography.
According to Edward Steichen himself, The Family of Man was the most significant work of his career. In a manner that was both unusual and visionary at the time, the collection condensed his approach to photography as well as his understanding of settings: the photographs were chosen according to their capacity of communication, while the layout allowed visitors to immerse themselves in a photographic essay. The collection embodies an astonishing summary of Steichen's career as an exhibition curator at MoMA.
To exhibit this heritage today calls for a deference to history and an almost archaeological approach: the course of the exhibition and the chronology of the images have been respected and follow the layout of the original exhibition at MoMA in order to recreate the visitor experience and the effect the images has on them. This approach nevertheless demanded a shift away from history, resulting in the exhibition rooms featuring a very sober architecture, which has been conceived by the designer Nathalie Jacoby (NJOY). The exhibition concept also includes the new media platform of the iPad mini, which accompanies visitors on their tour, giving them access to
documents on the history of the original exhibition and its layout, as well as on the photographers
themselves and Edward Steichen.
The collection The Family of Man is composed of original prints dating from 1955, all in black and
white and glued onto wood frames. The formats vary, ranging from 24 x 36 cm to 300 x 400 cm.
These photographs have endured a long and turbulent history: from being exhibited throughout
the world to being transported without packaging, handled by humans ... The damage that this history left on the prints was treated in a first large-scale restoration campaign, launched during the early 1990s by the CNA.
But also 16 years of permanent exhibition at Clervaux Castle left its marks on the artworks. Marks that can be treated in a restoration process in order to consolidate the original photographs and prepare them to their new exhibition period at Clervaux Castle. Recent developments in the science and tools used in photography restoration enabled a state-of-the-art analysis and treatment of the photographs to be carried out. A lot of the damage noted was able to be dealt with thanks to restoration treatments such as cleaning, consolidation and retouching.
The restoration has been carried out in collaboration with the Studio Berselli from Milan, Italy (Silvia Berselli, Roberta Piantavigna, Francesca Vantellini, Isabel Dimas).
The exhibition rooms of the medieval castle that housed the collection for 16 years were renovated in collaboration with the interior designer Nathalie Jacoby (NJOY) and under the direction of the Department of National Sites and Monuments. On the one hand the works aim at to reinforcing security and improving the conservation of the photographs. On the other, the exhibition space is extended and the visitor's journey through the exhibition being rethought.
The renovation project of the exhibition rooms goes hand in hand with contemporary thoughts on the new design of this historical collection and how to accompany today's visitor through The Family of Man. While the historical framework of the exhibition is respected, the choice of the design or the didactic material is resolutely modern.
A project by the Ministry of Culture and its cultural institutes: CNA & Department of National Sites and Monuments (contracting owner). In collaboration with the Administration of Public Buildings. Architecture and design: NJOY. Exhibition concept: CNA.
THE FAMILY OF MAN
Tel.: +352 92 96 57
Fax: +352 52 24 24 344
"Clervaux - cité de l'image" is a cultural programme with a focus on the photographic medium.
The historical collection "The Family of Man" forms the basis of this initiative: the world-renowned exhibition encourages a confrontation with contemporary productions. As a result, the dissemination of contemporary photography in the region constitutes one of the fundamental priorities of the programme "Clervaux - cité de l'image".
It offers various projects - temporary exhibitions, workshops, an artist residency, conferences - in a bid to highlight the identity of the town as a "cité de l'image".
The main project is entitled "Jardins" and involves several open-air photography installations, freely accessible and dispersed throughout the town, encouraging visitors to an encounter with photography, contemplation and exchange.