Middlebury College Museum of Art


Just Kids: Photographs from the Nicholas Gift

May 25–August 12, 2018

Whether it was a time of joy or a time marked by turbulence, every adult has survived childhood. Whatever the circumstances, one thing is certain: children have always been a magnet for photographers, ranging from elated first-time parents to cool-eyed professionals with decades of experience. For whatever reason, children are likely to be more photographed than any other single subject. Indeed, some of the most universally beloved images to be found in art and literature—from Gainsborough’s Blue Boy and Degas’s Little Dancer to Pinocchio and Huckleberry Finn—present us with a vision of the state of childhood, a vision constantly evolving and reflecting changes in historical experience.

Jacques Lowe, Portrait of Young Girl with Doll
Jacques Lowe (American, b. Germany, 1930-2001), Portrait of Young Girl with Doll, c. 1960, gelatin silver print, 13 ½ x 9 ¼ inches. Loan to the Middlebury College Museum of Art from Dr. Stephen Nicholas.

Thanks to the magnanimous gift of Dr. and Mrs. Stephen Nicholas, the Museum now holds many hundreds of photographs of children. Drawn from every corner of the globe and representing a broad spectrum of social and economic circumstances, the images portray children in good times and bad, in states of blissful play or harrowing isolation, or just being kids in a world that either answers their expectations or exceeds their comprehension.

Some of the photographs in this exhibit invite us to imagine lives and situations very different from our own, and some may remind us of moments in our own earlier existence, in another time, another place.