Russell Lee Photography Exhibit

I have written about my admiration of Russell Lee photography before HERE. The Pie Town exhibit I wrote about was the first time I experienced Lee’s work in person. So, I was happy to learn about an exhibit of his work at the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum in Temple, Texas. The exhibit contains photographs from the Dolph Briscoe Center in Austin, Texas and is on display in the temporary gallery of the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum from January 27, 2018 – March 10, 2018. I have included the press release about the exhibit below.

Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum Press Release for Russell Lee Exhibit

The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is proud to host a new temporary exhibit featuring the photographs of renowned documentary photographer, Russell Lee. These photographs, on display through March 10th, showcase Lee’s stunning black and white images, focusing on topics such as politics, travel, industry and, most touchingly, the human condition.

Russell Lee came to photography after training as an engineer and a painter and left a legacy of more than 100,000 documentary images from the 1930s to the 1970s. Although best known for his large body of work for the Farm Security Administration (FSA) from 1936 to 1943, Lee also produced many significant series of images on his own and on other assignments, most of it while living in Austin, Texas, his chosen home.

This exhibit offers a rare glimpse into the images he produced in 1935 and 1936 when he first took up a camera and goes on to highlight the vast body of important work that Lee produced from 1947 through 1977. Although less familiar than his work for the FSA, Lee’s early work and his postwar photography highlight his interest in documenting the human condition and reflect his great talent and humanity.

This collection of digital prints is drawn from the archives of the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. The Briscoe Center’s Lee collection includes 3,639 photographic prints, 708 slides, 27,047 photographic negatives, and five color transparencies.

Russell Lee Photographs can be viewed with regular admission to the museum, Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. and is part of the regular schedule of changing exhibits at the museum. The Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum is located at 315 W. Avenue B in downtown Temple. For more information about the exhibit or the museum, please visit or call 254-298-5194.

Russell Lee Photographs was organized by the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin, and presented in partnership with Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Humanities Texas advances heritage, culture, and education and is based in Austin, Texas.


Happy Birthday Russell Lee

By Photographer not credited. (Self portrait with timer?) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Russell Lee was an American photographer/photojournalist who, like Dorothea Lange, was best known for the images he captured during his time with the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Although Lee received a degree in engineering, he was dissatisfied with his career as a chemical engineer. He ultimately gave up his engineering career and began painting. It was during this time that he began using a camera as a tool to assist with his paintings. The rest, as they say, is history. I, for one, am so glad he made his way to photography. His images are among my favorites.

I was fortunate to see the New Mexico Farm & Ranch Heritage Museum exhibit of Lee’s images. This particular exhibit included images Lee captured in the 1940s of Pie Town, New Mexico and its residents. I remember being so taken with his images that I went through the exhibit more than once. Although most of his images are beautiful black and white, this exhibit included a selection of images captured in color. Oh, and what colors they hold. Just look at this little beauty below.


Russell Lee [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Happy birthday Mr. Lee!