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 What would you do with $3.5 million?

The UA’s Creative Center of Photography has a few plans, after Arthur J. Bell bestowed this large sum upon the center as part of his final estate.

Bell worked as a professor at Columbia College in Chicago and had no connection to the UA before leaving this large estate with the center, which received the money in December.

Bell, a photographer himself who studied under the renowned photographers Aaron Siskind and Harry Callahan, also donated his own archive that is now on display in the center.

“”He wanted to leave his photographs and his estate because he recognized that the center was an internationally known archive of American photographers,”” said Katharine Martinez, director of the Center for Creative Photography.

The center will use the donation to help fund its conservation efforts. The center’s conservation lab aims to assess different ways to maintain its many photograph archives, and the money will go to creating a full-time job for a senior photograph conservator. The center has had no one to fill that challenging job until now.

Martinez said the job would likely be filled by spring 2012, since becoming conservator requires extensive training in chemistry and art history to accurately assess collections.

“”Someone like that is really necessary to get this program off the ground,”” Martinez said.

Any leftover money will go toward other conservation efforts, including additional staffing, supplies and extensive equipment such as microscopes.

“”(We) thought Arthur would be happy knowing he was, in effect, taking care of his teachers and other photographers,”” Martinez said.

Martinez spent 11 years as director for the Fine Arts Library at Harvard University and other acclaimed photography centers, including the Smithsonian Institution and Stanford and Columbia universities. However, she said she decided to work here because the institution is “”extraordinary and internationally known,”” whose unique focus may have been the reason for Bell’s generous donation.

“”We’re the only place that has as its primary function acquiring archives of photographers,”” Martinez said.

Martinez ranked the Creative Center of Photography as one of the nation’s best and said its mission is to support learning and to serve as a research resource for all. This will be a little easier with the help of Bell’s $3.5 million estate.

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