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  • Exhibit

Time of Change: Civil Rights Photography of Bruce Davidson

See six powerful photographs by Bruce Davidson, who documented the experiences of Freedom Riders challenging segregation during the Civil Rights era.

This event has already occurred

January 15 - May 20, 2024
East Elevator Bay, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center, fifth floor
Open to the Public
A Black woman and white woman are seated at a lunch counter

See six important Civil Rights era photographs by renowned American photographer Bruce Davidson. In 1961, Davidson traveled from Montgomery, Alabama to Jackson, Mississippi along with the Freedom Riders to document their experiences as they challenged segregation within the interstate bus routes in the South. Davidson actively participated in almost every civil rights ride and march until 1965.  

A Black woman's arms are restrained by two police officers
In Damn the Defiant, one of the photographs on exhibit, Davidson captures the courage of a young African American woman being tightly restrained by two white police officers during a 1963 protest in Birmingham, Alabama.

In Bruce Davidson: an illustrated biography (2016), author Vicki Goldberg notes: "There is no question that the civil rights photographs had a seismic effect on public opinion, as the shocking violence and prejudice they revealed were too visceral—too indisputable—to ignore.”

This is the first in a new series of small exhibitions developed in partnership with the Penn Art Collection and drawing from items in the University’s remarkable fine art collection. The photographs on view were generously donated to the Penn Art Collection in 2019 by Dr. and Mrs. Tamir and Leah Bloom. Dr. Tamir Bloom is a Penn Alumnus and avid collector of the photography of Bruce Davidson.

About the Penn Art Collection

The Penn Art Collection includes over 8,000 artworks acquired during the past 250 years. On view in over 100 different locations, the Penn Art Collection includes paintings, sculptures, photography, works on paper, and decorative arts. Intended for the enrichment of all, artwork can be found in classrooms, campus libraries, in offices, and on Locust Walk.

Plan Your Visit

On view January 15 to May 20, 2024. This display is free and open to the public. Find it in the East elevator bay on the 5th floor of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center (turn left after exiting the elevator on the 5th floor). Visitors can see the display anytime the library is open. Penn faculty, staff, and students must swipe their PennCard for access. Visitors from outside the Penn community must present a current, valid government or school-issued photo ID that contains an expiration date. Find more information to plan your visit

Featured image: Bruce Davidson (American, born 1933), Two Women at Lunch Counter, New York, 1962. From the series Time of Change. Gelatin silver print, University of Pennsylvania Art Collection, Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Tamir and Leah Bloom.