The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, announced today its acquisition of a major collection of photography books. Amassed by Manfred Heiting, an Amsterdam -based writer, designer and curator, the extensive holdings include 25,000 volumes. Heiting's collection, assembled over five decades, traces the history of photographic book publishing from the late 19th century through the end of the 20th century, and features books from dozens of countries including Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union. In addition to the 25,000 photography books, the MFAH will also receive 170 photographs and 200 ceramic objects.

"In the still relatively new world of photobook collecting, this is a big deal," said Christopher Phillips, curator at New York's International Center of Photography, via e-mail. "Manfred Heiting is a very savvy collector who sold his collection of vintage photographs to the MFAH some years ago, and used the proceeds to begin amassing and promoting his collection of photobooks. Smart collectors can turn an overlooked corner of the market into the next hot thing."

Highlights include Eadweard Muybridge's The Horse in Motion (1882) and a complete run of the journal Novyi Lef, designed by Alexander Rodchenko in 1927-28. Notable photographs include a signed copy of Grasshopper (1920) by Edward Steichen and a large print of Heinrich Kühn's Die Wiese (1898), which will be added to the MFAH's existing Manfred Heiting Collection, formed with a gift by the collector in 2002.

PHOTO: Portrait of Manfred Heiting. Photo: Christian Courrèges, Untitled, 2000, dye diffusion transfer print, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. © Christian Courrèges.