The Steichen Collections Luxembourg assemble works that are connected to the heritage of Edward J. Steichen (1879 – 1973) and his long, fruitful career related to photography.

The Steichen Collections Luxembourg assemble works that are connected to the heritage of Edward J. Steichen (1879 – 1973) and his long, fruitful career related to photography. Several public collections testify his prolific creation as a photographer and curator at the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA): those of the National Museum of History and Art (MNHA), the City of Luxembourg and the National Centre for Audiovisual Arts (CNA).

The Family of Man

UNESCO Memory of the World

CNA, Clervaux Castle


The Family of Man is a legendary photographic exhibition, created by Edward Steichen for the New York Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in 1955. The exhibition reflects the humanist photography of the post-war years, declaring itself a manifesto for peace. Images by artists such as Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Wayne Miller, … were staged in a modernist and spectacular manner.

After an international tour, the exhibition is now shown permanently at Clervaux castle and is part of the UNESCO’s Memory of the world list.

The Bitter Years is a tribute to documentary photography, featuring more than 200 images from one of the greatest collective projects in the history of photography: the documentation of rural America during the Great Depression by the Farm Security Administration.

Created in 1962 by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the exhibition is today housed permanently in the Waassertuerm+Pomhouse in Dudelange, bringing together the iconic works of photographers, such as Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein and Russell Lee.

The Bitter Years collection is now in the archives of the Centre national de l'audiovisuel (CNA) in Dudelange where it is analysed and appraised with a view to new adventures.

The Bitter Years

1935 - 1941



A gallery dedicated solely to Edward Steichen, is the MNHA’s homage to his career as a photographer. The collection consists of 178 photos bequeathed to the State of Luxembourg by Steichen himself.

The MNHA also conserves and exhibits the 44 photographs from the Steichen Collection belonging to the City of Luxembourg. For conservation reasons, both collections are displayed in cycles, presenting around 20 photos at a time.

Edward Steichen

The Photographer

Musée national d’histoire et d’art (MNHA)



The Steichen Collections of the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg assemble works that are connected to the heritage of Edward J. Steichen (1879 – 1973). The American artist of Luxembourgish descent is world famous for his remarkably long and fruitful career related to photography. Not only was Edward Steichen a very prolific photographer, he was also director of the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, where his work as curator of photographicexhibitions was acclaimed worldwide.

The collections on display in Luxembourg reflect his two-fold activity: while the MNHA and the Villa Vauban honour the photographer with a selection of his private and commissioned works, the Centre national de l’audiovisuel (CNA) with its two collections The Family of Man and The Bitter Years, highlights his achievements as curator, assembling the works by famous photographers.

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Biography Edward J. STEICHEN

The life of Edward Steichen (1879-1973) spanned a rich and varied artistic career: known above all for his photography work, he was also a painter, director, MoMA curator, gardener and passionate experimenter.

Edward Steichen, Self-Portrait with Camera, c. 1917 © 2015 The Estate of Edward Steichen / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Born Bivange (Luxembourg), March 27. Fils de Jean-Pierre Steichen et de Marie Steichen Kemp.
Steichen family moves to the United States; Edward Steichen naturalized as citizen
Apprentice at lithography company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
First photographs exhibited at Philadelphia Photographic Salon
First solo exhibition at private home, Milwaukee, WI; studies at Academie Julian, Paris.
Paintings and photographs exhibited in Paris; elected member of Linked Ring: London photographic society; meets Rodin.
Among founders of Photo-Secession group; first solo exhibition at Maison des Artistes, Paris; establishes studio at 291 Fifth Avenue
Marries Clara Smith (divorced 1922; two daughters: Dr. Mary Steichen [Martin] Calderone [1904-1998] and [Charlotte] Kate Rodina Steichen [1908-1988])
Stieglitz opens Little Gallery of the Photo-Secession, later Gallery 291, in Edward Steichen's former studio and first shows "modern" art (Cézanne, Picasso, Maurer, and others)
Returns to Paris
Arranges through Leo and Gertrude Stein for Ecole de Paris artists to be seen in the United States; rents farmhouse at Voulangis, France; sister Lilian marries Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
First creates delphinium hybrids at Voulangis
First fashion photography, of gowns by Poiret
Creates painted murals (In Exaltation of Flowers) for residence of Agnes and Eugene Meyer
First experimental photographs of plant forms, flowers, and insects
Returns to United States at outbreak of war
Commissioned as Lieutenant in U.S. Army Signal Corps Photographic section; supervises aerial reconnaissance photography in France
Continues experiments in object photography; burns paintings in garden of Voulangis studio
Divorces Clara Smith Steichen
Marries Dana Desboro Glover (d. February 20, 1957)
Occupies photographic studio at 80 W. 40th Street, New York City
Chief Photographer, Condé Nast publications; photographs appear in Vogue and Vanity Fair; begins photographic work for J. Walter Thompson advertising agency
Designs pianos; begins breeding delphiniums at Umpawaug farm, Redding, CT
Carl Sandburg's Steichen the Photographer published
Collaborates with daughter Mary on The First Picture Book: Every Day Things for Babies, and The Second Picture Book
First color cover of Vogue
Occupies photographic studio at 139 E. 69th Street; selects photographs for U.S. Camera Annuals
Exhibits delphiniums at MoMA: Edward Steichen's Delphiniums [exhibition at MoMA, June 24-July 1, 1936]
Retires from Condé Nast, moves to Umpawaug farm, Redding, CT
Joins U.S. Navy as organizer of Naval Aviation Photographic Unit; by 1945, is in command of all naval combat photography
Designs Road to Victory [exhibition at MoMA, May 21-October 4, 1942] in collaboration with Carl Sandburg
Aboard U.S.S. Lexington
Supervises U.S. Navy film The Fighting Lady, winner 1945 Academy Award for Documentary Film
Named director U.S. Navy Photographic Institute, which was established "to promote and encourage photography on Naval subjects" (see folder IV.B.29); creates Power in the Pacific [exhibition at MoMA, January 23-March 20, 1945]
Named Director, Department of Photography MoMA; discontinues photographic career to promote younger photographers
Begins preparations for The Family of Man, assisted by Wayne Miller, including travel in the United States and Europe to obtain photographs for selection
The Family of Man opens at MoMA [exhibition at MoMA, January 24-May 8, 1955]
Begins color exploration, on still and moving image film, of shadblow tree on Umpawaug property
Dana Steichen dies
Travels to Russia with Carl Sandburg for Moscow opening of The Family of Man
Marries Joanna Taub (1933-2010)
Last exhibition at MoMA: Steichen the Photographer [exhibition at MoMA, March 28-May 30, 1961]; establishment of Edward Steichen Photography Center in planned new MoMA building
Retires and named Director Emeritus; John Szarkowski becomes Director of Photography
A Life in Photography published; Edward Steichen awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom by John F. Kennedy, presented by Lyndon Johnson; meets the Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte of Luxembourg at the White House
Edward Steichen Photography Center opens at MoMA with exhibition Edward Steichen Photography Center [exhibition at MoMA, May 27, 1964- ] ; The Family of Man exhibition given to Luxembourg
Visits Luxemburg with Joanna Steichen
Dies March 25, two days before 94th birthday

Series of conferences

Steichen Collections 2017

LUXEMBOURG, Villa Vauban

Steichen – The Early Years

Vendredi 21/04, 19h

Depuis ses débuts en tant que photographe aux ambitions artistiques, en passant par son engagement pour l’art moderne européen, qu’il a aidé à établir aux Etats-Unis, Edward Steichen fait preuve, dès ses débuts professionnels, d’une biographie riche et complexe. Cette conférence illustre son œuvre de la Belle Epoque jusqu’aux années noires de la Première Guerre mondiale.


DUDELANGE, CNA, Waassertuerm+Pomhouse

Une crise en images iconiques

Jeudi, 19/10, 19h, The Bitter Years

Les romans de John Steinbeck et les chansons de Woody Guthry ont marqués la mémoire collective des années de la Grande Dépression aux USA. En 1963, Edward Steichen voulait rappeler cette période noire au public new-yorkais à l’aide d’une grande exposition photographique. L’exposition The Bitter Years n’a cependant pas eu le succès escompté. Steichen avait composé un monument visuel que nous commençons seulement à apprécier depuis quelques années.


CLERVAUX, CNA, Château de Clervaux

Humanisme en temps durs

Jeudi, 23/11, 19h, The Family of Man

Avec son exposition The Family of Man, Edward Steichen a composé une suite épique, fabriquée à partir de petites histoires et d’anecdotes privées, parfois presque intimes. Cette conférence fera le point sur l’histoire de certaines de ces photos, aujourd’hui universellement reconnues.



Le portrait à la perfection

Jeudi 7/12 à 18h30

L’année 1922 a été difficile pour Edward Steichen. Sur le plan privé, mais aussi au niveau artistique, Steichen a dû subir plusieurs échecs. Après un divorce douloureux et la conviction qu’il ne serait jamais un grand peintre, Steichen, âgé alors de 43 ans se reprend pour commencer une nouvelle carrière aux Etats-Unis. Il deviendra le photographe attitré des éditions Condé-Nast.