The first museum in France with its own photography collection
Inspired by the collections springing up in the United States, the photographer Lucien Clergue was determined his home town should have the same. He approached his friend, Jean-Maurice Rouquette, curator of the Réattu Museum, with a view to creating a whole new department. That, on 28 May 1965, and with scarcely any funding, was how the adventure began. The first collection of its kind in a museum, it was helped into being by the remarkable generosity of the great photographers and a handful of forward-thinking collectors. From 1965 to 1969, the museum inventories swelled with the names of Ansel Adams, Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton, Brassaï, Denis Brihat, Jean Dieuzaide, Robert Doisneau, Lucien Hervé, Izis, William Klein, Man Ray, Paul Strand, Jean-Pierre Sudre, André Vigneau and Edward Weston - to mention but a few. A total of more than 400 works.
Alongside those photographers who donated their works, two collectors enriched this first crop with works by iconic figures from the history of photography. Hélène Cingria, a journalist, introduced treasures of 1930s photography, including work by Frantisek Kollar, Germaine Krull, Dora Maar and Emmanuel Sougez. Jerome Hill, a painter, filmmaker and patron of the arts, offered thirty-six masterpieces by Edward Weston, including several dating to the late 1920s.