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The Collection

Since 1969, the photographs collection at the Ryerson Image Centre has comprised a teaching and research resource unique in Canada. Nearly 375,000 objects offer researchers the remarkable opportunity to study firsthand works by photographers of international status.

A photograph with a long exposure so that you can see the flight path of helicopter that is taking off.
Fig. 1

Andreas Feininger, Helicopter during take-off, New Jersey, 1949, gelatin silver print, fiber based. Ryerson Image Centre, Gift of Gertrud Feininger, 2009 (IA.2009.0108)


The Collection

Historical photographs by such seminal figures as Eugène Atget, Brassaï, Andreas Feininger, André Kertész, Dorothea Lange, W. Eugene Smith, Edward Steichen, and Edward Weston join works by contemporary artists including Edward Burtynsky, Clara Gutsche, Ruth Kaplan, Arnaud Maggs, and Gabor Szilasi. To more fully represent the working methods of photographers and news agencies, the RIC has in recent years acquired a number of large archival collections, including the Black Star collection of press photography, the Rudolph P. Bratty Family Collection of Canadian subject matter from the New York Times Photo Archive, and several individual artist archives. Other highlights include a complete run of unbound issues of the popular picture magazine Life, an important contextual complement for the RIC’s photojournalistic holdings, as well as nearly 3,000 19th and early-20th-century stereographic objects from the Dr. Martin J. Bass and Gail Silverman Bass Collection. The RIC’s longstanding commitment to collecting and connoisseurship is reflected through the continued preservation, study, and display of a wide range of photographic subjects, mediums, and approaches. 

The Collection

A photograph of a woman's face
Fig. 1

  Berenice Abbott (American, b. 1898 d. 1991), [portrait of an unknown woman, New York City], 1942–04–04, four gelatin silver prints mounted to board, made with Supersight camera. Berenice Abbott Collection, Ryerson Image Centre (AG04.2012.2010:0065)

A photograph of a nuclear explosion
Fig. 2

Photographer unknown, [Nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific Ocean], ca. 1950, gelatin silver print. The Black Star Collection, Ryerson Image Centre (BS.2005.236812)

Fig. 3

Jo Spence (British, b. 1934 d. 1992) and Terry Dennett (British, b. 1938), The highest product of capitalism (after John Heartfield). From Remodelling Photo History (The History Lesson), 1979–1982, gelatin silver print. Jo Spence Memorial Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG03.2010.2000:0001)

A girl posing in front of a very large tree that has just been cut down
Fig. 4

Unknown photographer for Federal Newsphotos of Canada, [LARGEST TREE EVER CUT on the Canadian Pacific Coast is this Sitka spruce, girth of which dwarfs Verna Maynard, daughter of the Queen Charlotte Island Camp superintendent where it was toppled], Queen Charlotte Islands (now Haida Gwaii), British Columbia, Canada, August 1956, gelatin silver print. The Rudolph P. Bratty Family Collection, Ryerson Image Centre (NYT_37-19)

Fig. 5

Wendy Snyder MacNeil (American, b. 1943 d. 2016), [Poster for photographic exhibition], ca. 1968, lithograph. Wendy Snyder MacNeil Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG01.01.01.0001)

Fig. 6

Werner Wolff (German, b. 1911 d. 2002), Picture Strip, U.S. from Coast to Coast, 1948, gelatin silver print. Werner Wolff Archive, Ryerson Image Centre (AG02.2009.0832:048)

Fig. 7

Jerremiah Doody, Dawson by the Light of the Aurora Borealis, ca. 1908, gelatin silver print. Ryerson Image Centre, Gift of Christopher Varley, 2018 (RIC.2018.0066)

Fig. 8

Hippolyte Bayard (French, b. 1801 d. 1887), Portrait d'Homme, Edition des Calotypes Originaux D'Hippolyte Bayard, ca. mid 1840's, gelatin silver print. Ryerson Image Centre (FP.1980.0010)

A photograph of a woman's face

Berenice Abbott Archive

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A photograph of a nuclear explosion

Black Star Collection

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Jo Spence Memorial Archive

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A girl posing in front of a very large tree that has just been cut down

Rudolph P. Bratty Family Collection

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Wendy Snyder MacNeil Archive

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Werner Wolff Archive

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Canadian photographs from the collection of Christopher Varley

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More collection highlights

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Peter Higdon Research Centre

Monday – Friday: 10am to 5pm

For information on access to the collection, please contact: riccollections@ryerson.ca or 416.979.5000 x 2376

122 Bond Street, Second Floor,
Room RIC-241
Toronto, Ontario M5B 1E9


The Peter Higdon Research Centre (PHRC), located on the second floor above the galleries at 33 Gould Street, supports scholarly activities by students, faculty, curators, visiting artists and critical writers in an environment that maintains an extensive range of collections material.

Related resources in the form of artist files, journals and a rare books collection provide further support material. The Research Centre is staffed with professionals who are available to researchers for consultation. An accessible database is provided in aid of focused collections searches.

The RIC, though it owns the works in its collections, does not own copyright to all objects. Presently, we are not engaged in licensing image use or in providing reproductions.

Peter Higdon

The RIC's research centre is named after Peter Higdon, our founding Collections Curator, who retired in 2014 after 35 years of service at Ryerson University. Peter played an instrumental role in shaping Ryerson's photography collection into a world-class resource. 

One person standing in the Peter Higdon Research Centre looking at photographs, and another walking through

  Peter Higdon Research Centre, 2018 © Ryerson Image Centre

Search the Collection

The database is currently under construction.
Please check back soon!

To make the RIC’s collection more accessible, we’re digitizing the more than 300,000 objects in our collection and putting this information online. As we are constantly adding information and new objects to the collection, the database is a living, changing entity. Object records evolve through research, new scholarship, and an ongoing dialogue and interaction with those who make use of the objects.

The Ryerson Image Centre online collection contains copyrighted information and copyrighted works. The works in this online collection are protected by Canada’s Copyright Act and laws, and by applicable copyright laws of other countries. Images in this online collection have been donated to Ryerson University and are provided solely for the purposes of research, private study, or education. Any other use, whether or not for commercial purposes, is strictly prohibited. Downloaded material must not be modified, must retain any and all watermarks or copyright notices, and must cite the source of the material. Any additional terms, restrictions or notices appearing on individual pages of this online collection must be observed.

For any questions related to the database, please contact us at:
416.979.5000 x.2376