The Baker/Pisano Collection offers a personal and selective history of photography from the 1840s through 1980s. With an emphasis on portraits, the collection includes images by influential photographers of famous and notable subjects, created with the most significant of the photographic methods and techniques developed since the invention of the camera.
The collection is particularly strong in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and records the famous and anonymous, from Abraham Lincoln, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, and Agnes Martin to soldiers, farmers, and laborers. The represented photographers are among the most famous of their times: early pioneers David O. Hill and Robert Adamson, Francis Frith, and Matthew Brady; early-twentieth-century trendsetters Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, and Paul Strand; and late-20th-century photographers Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Cindy Sherman, and Robert Mapplethorpe. The collection also traces the technical developments of photography from daguerreotypes, calotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes, to film negatives and gelatin-silver prints. Alumnus Frederick Baker’s generous donation, unique in the state of Wisconsin, is a significant addition to the museum’s permanent photographic collection.