Eric J. Sandeen
The family of man was an important cultural event of the 1950s. This great photographic exhibition, which drew record crowds at the Museum of Modern Art and attracted over 9,000,000 people on its sixyear, world-wide tour, was the work of Edward Steichen, who saw the opportunity for a retrospective on the history of photography as well as a comment on the perils of modern-day society. The exhibition took on a life of its own. It surpassed in popularity even the optimistic prediction of Steichen and defied the bland skepticism of other departments within the Museum. Museum workers received their first bonus because of its success. Popular magazines and newspapers from all over the world saw in the exhibition a penetratingly simple statement about the first decade of the nuclear age, and millions of people became acquainted with a photographic language to which they had not been exposed before.