Hundreds of photographs by artist Vivian Maier, a Chicago nanny who constantly took photos in her spare time and was unknown until her negatives were found in the late 2000s, have been donated to the University of Chicago.
Nearly 500 prints, which have never been exhibited or published, have been donated to the university along with one of the artist’s cameras. Even though Maier has had several exhibitions, gallery shows, and even a documentary made about her work, this is the first time her photos will be given to a research center.
The photos were donated by John Maloof who first discovered and bought the negatives and uploaded many online. After a messy legal battle which included Maloof thinking he had tracked down Maier’s only living relative but then someone finding another heir, Maloof now technically owns the negatives but pays an undisclosed royalty on them to the Vivian Maier estate.
The intent is for art historians and photography students to study the works and Daniel Meyer, director of special collections at the library, told the Chicago Tribune that the institution is “very interested in seeing what students and researchers are able to provide in the way of interpretation and analysis.” The prints, as well, were chosen to be printed by Maier, a rare thing for the nearly 135,000 negatives that she was estimated to have shot.