Since 1983, the museum has assembled a small, carefully selected collection of fine art photography covering the history of the medium that began in 1839. It represents many of the major movements and inventive practitioners. Strengths of the collection are its early 19th-century images by many pioneering figures, especially French, English, and American photographers; pictorial photography with complete sets of The North American Indian by Edward S. Curtis and Camera Work; surrealist photography created primarily between the two world wars; and Cleveland-specific subject matter produced by regional and national photographers. The collection also includes extensive examples of post-1970 photography.