Columbia College has received a collection of over 360 photos by world-renowned photographer Bruce Davidson.

Why the school received $1.2 million collection from an anonymous donor remains a mystery.

“This is truly a landmark gift for our institution, and we appreciate the generous donation of some of Mr. Davidson’s most recognized works,” said Scott Dalrymple, president of Columbia College, according to a news release.

Davidson does not have any personal ties to Columbia College or Columbia. The college is one of three small institutions that were given a large collection of Davison’s work.

“As far as I know, he was looking for smaller institutions to donate the work to. His work is in every major museum over the world,” said Scott McMahon, curator of display of Columbia College. “It’s still a bit of a mystery on how it landed here.”

Davidson is known for capturing photographs that depict his subjects’ everyday lives during the Civil Rights Movement. In 2018, he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Center of Photography.

Columbia College will have Davidson’s photos on display in New Hall until the end of November. Special exhibitions to highlight Davidson’s photographs are planned to open in fall 2021 at the Sidney Larson and Greg Hardwick galleries.

“We are going to be showing this collection in various forms and exhibitions. It’s pretty exciting to share with the Columbia College and greater Columbia community,” McMahon said.

McMahon, a photography professor, said the photo collection has been incorporated in several visual arts and graphic design classes.

“His work is in our textbooks. We actually have a print in the textbook, and now that actual photo is in our collection.”

  • Cey'na Smith is an education reporter for Fall 2020. She is studying Magazine Arts and Culture at The Missouri School of Journalism. Reach her at, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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