The University of Arizona's Center for Creative Photography

Center for Creative Photography

About the CCP

The Center for Creative Photography sits on The University of Arizona. It is located at 1030 N. Olive Road and sits among some of the most creative and artistic schools on campus. The School of Architecture is next door, the School of Fine Arts, Marroney Theatre, and the School of Music are all across the street. The Center for Creative Photography is one of the world’s leading museums of modern American photography. It collects and manages materials essential to understanding photography and its history. Through its archives, collections, education programs, exhibitions, and publications the CCP promotes research and appreciation of photography while preserving original pieces for posterity. The CCP houses over 90,000 works by more than 2,000 photographers. In all, there are over five million objects in the collection, which include books, journals, rare publications, and an oral history collection. The CCP has an extensive online collection site as well. Here the CCP's fine print catalog can be viewed, as well as records and images of some of the Center’s collection of art objects.

Entrance to CCP

In 2016 the Center for Creative Photography was selected by The Culture Trip website as one of Tucson's Top 10 Art Galleries and Museums. The Culture Trip stated, “In addition to being an unmatched resource for the photography historian, the CCP also puts on captivating exhibitions for the amateur fan. Expect to see some of the biggest names of this creative medium, accompanied by informative materials and framed by skilled curation.” 

The first floor of the Center for Creative Photography is home to a 240 seat auditorium, gift store, and gallery. The entrance to the building takes you to a lobby area with tables and chairs that can be used for study or conversation. It is in this area there is also a small gift shop right next to the Information Desk. The gift shop has a variety of books related to photography and unique postcards available for purchase. The counter of the gift shop also serves as the information desk where the staff is available to answer any questions a visitor might have about the CCP. At the rear of the first floor, next to the stairs that lead to the study center, is a quiet area with comfortable chairs. This secluded area can be used for studying, discussion or just relaxing.

CCP Gift Shop and Information Desk

A glass door to the right of the information desk serves as the entrance to a climate controlled gallery. The heavy door opens to a surprisingly large, sparse, and exquisite gallery with easy traffic flow between rooms.  The gallery displays changing exhibitions that feature modern and contemporary photographs. This space is also used for special events.

CCP Gallery

The second floor houses the Laura Volkerding Study Center, named in honor of the artist from Louisville, Kentucky. Volkerding began a career in drawing, weaving, and prints but switched to photography 1972. She became a lecturer in photography at Stanford University and received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Prix de Paris, and the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France. The Center for Creative Photography published her book, Solomon’s Temple: The European Building-Crafts Legacy in 1996. The Study Center is used for research and study of the CCP's archives, rare books, reference materials, and oral histories. This space is available by appointment only.

In an effort to promote new knowledge about photography, photography history and photography theory, the CCP offers several fellowships and internships. Information is available here.

History of the CCP

Master photographer Ansel Adams was the impetus behind the creation of the Center for Creative Photography.  As early as 1935, Adams had realized the importance of centers dedicated to research in photography. His idea was to preserve and protect photographs and make them available for use in public education.  Adams idea would not come to fruition for another 40 years. In the early 1970s, he approached the California Library system about housing his collection. The libraries turned him down, saying they were not set up for photo archiving and did not have the funding to do what was necessary to preserve the collection the way he envisioned. In 1974, Adams was asked by University of Arizona and then-president John Schaeffer, an avid photographer who admired Adam’s work, to present a one-man show at the University Of Arizona Museum Of Art. It was during their meeting at the exhibit that the idea for the Center for Creative Photography emerged.

Schaeffer approached Adams with the suggestion of archiving his collection at the University of Arizona. Adams was interested but wanted to include the works of fellow photographers. The talks continued, and it was decided the collection would become a part of the special collections section of the new library that was being built by the university. It was an immediate success. In the first year, five archives were committed  - Ansel Adams , Wynn Bullock, Aaron Siskind , Fred Sommer, and Harry Callahan. In the next few years, 60 other important names in photographic history were added to the collection. The Center quickly outgrew the library, and funds were raised it the late 1980s to construct the current facility, designed precisely for the Center’s needs.

CCP Core Values

Recently the Center for Creative Photography decided to include a set of core values for their staff. The goal of these values is to show what the CCP stands for and what defines them as an institution. These values are here to represent the future projects they have planned and to ensure long term success. 









Supporting the CCP

Those interested in supporting the Center for Creative Photography can become a member. The CCP even offers free memberships to students of the University. The Harold Jones & Frances Murray Endowment is a research fellowship that encourages research projects for photographers whose archives are displayed at the CCP. More information and donation information can be found here

Visit the CCP

The Center for Creative Photography, 1030 N. Olive Road,  is open to the public Tuesday – Friday, 9 am to 4 pm and Saturday 1 pm to 4 pm. It is closed Sunday and Monday. Admission is free. The Laura Volkerding Study Center is available by appointment only.

Follow the CCP

Keep up to date on the Center for Creative Photography and events by following their socials: 

Instagram- @cntrforcreativephoto