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In 1948 the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to guarantee respect for, and observance of, certain fundamental freedoms for all. Since then, freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion, the right to education, the right to vote, the right to citizenship, the right to own property, and the right to work, among others, have been codified and, theoretically, protected internationally.
The word "freedom" has been essential to how Americans understand themselves and their country since its founding, but in the post 9/11 era, the term has become particularly ubiquitous. Idealized, politicized, or played for applause, "freedom" resonates with the public, despite the fact that the abstract concept has no fixed meaning.
The exhibition Freedom Of/For/To is comprised of contemporary photographs from the museum's permanent collection that explore the fluid definition of the word and elicit questions about our collective (mis)understanding of freedom at home and abroad. The photographers represented in the exhibition, including Adam Bartos, Edward Burtynsky, William Clift, Stella Johnson, Miguel Rio Branco, Irina Rozovsky, and Joel Sternfeld, offer a variety of viewpoints that encourage us to consider how we define and protect freedom in a global context.