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University to House Black Star Photo Collection
CBC News

Ryerson University, home to Canada's largest photography school, announced plans Thursday to build a new gallery and research facility at its downtown Toronto campus to house its world-renowned Black Star photo collection.

The $8-million project will add new gallery, exhibition, research, study and storage spaces to the building that houses the university's School of Image Arts.

The addition will have direct access to the street and will provide a museum-quality environment to hold the Black Star collection and the Mira Godard Study Centre, Ryerson officials said in a statement.

'One of the top facilities in the world'

The new gallery and centre "will be one of the top facilities in the world for the study, teaching, research and exhibition of photography," said Ryerson president Sheldon Levy.

Don Snyder, chair of the School of Image Arts, called the project "an inspiring next step in the growth of our photography programs and collections."

He also predicted that "scholars will come from all over the world to work with our collections."

Next up, the school will search for a team to design and build the new facilities, as well as a director to lead and manage them.

In the meantime, the school will continue to showcase images from the collection during major public photography exhibits.

'Collection donated in 2005'

An anonymous donor gave the Black Star collection of close to 300,000 original black-and-white photos to Ryerson in 2005, along with $7 million earmarked for its "preservation, study and exhibit."

The photos are from the archives of the Black Star photojournalism agency and span the 20th century, with the images taken by famed photographers like Henri Cartier-Bresson and featuring subjects ranging from film star Charlie Chaplin to the U.S. civil rights movement.

Ryerson also said Thursday that the new gallery and research centre will be home to the two graduate programs at the School of Image Arts: its master's program in photographic preservation and collections management - the world's first of its kind and jointly created by the university and photography museum George Eastman House in 2003 - and its new master's program for documentary media, which is planned for fall 2007.

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