The Tsiaras Family Photography Collection includes war photographs by Robert Capa, photographs of factory workers by Margaret Bourke-White, Havana street scenes by Pedro Abascal, black-and-white photographs of Yosemite by Ansel Adams, and haunting images of nuclear test sites in New Mexico and Nevada taken by Barbara Norfleet. The gift also includes works by Berenice Abbott, Edward Steichen, Imogen Cunningham, James Van Der Zee, Dorothea Lange, Helen Levitt, and Roy DeCarava; photographs by Tsiaras's brothers, Philip and Alexander; and works by David Vestal, Joe Deal, Lucas Samaras, and Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, both of whom were patients of Bill Tsiaras, an ophthalmologist and medical professor.
The Tsiaras family made an initial gift of photographs to Colby in 2003 that included works by Garry Winogrand, William Christenberry, and Andy Warhol and which formed the foundation of a collection that would grow over the next two decades. Bill Tsiaras served on the museum board of governors from 1998 to 2015 and served as board chair from 2004 to 2007 and as chair of the collections committee from 2008 to 2014.
"This remarkable gift from Bill and Nancy Tsiaras allows the Colby Museum and its audiences to fully engage with photography, which has been critical to the development of art, and American culture in particular, since its inception in the nineteenth century," said Jacqueline Terrassa, Carolyn Muzzy Director of the Colby College Museum of Art. "The range and exceptional quality of this collection is in itself invaluable within the interdisciplinary environment of Colby. The story of how it grew over time — largely through direct interaction with some of the medium's leading and lesser-known practitioners — is also a wonderful testament to the power of curiosity and the belief that close looking is a valuable means to learn."
"This collection is a very personal journey through American photography," said Bill Tsiaras. "The museum was a formative and influential part of our experiences at Colby, where art is such a critical component of a true liberal arts education. We hope the collection inspires, stimulates, intrigues, challenges, and provides material for discussion, debate, understanding, and, ultimately, intellectual growth to the students of Colby for generations to come."