The museum plans to exhibit the portraits in September of 2009, displaying the set in its entirety for the first time. Getty Director Michael Brand said the museum will "fulfill Mr. Penn’s hopes of keeping the collection intact and displaying it as a whole work."
One of the most important living photographers, Penn photographed 215 subjects from London, New York, and Paris for the project. It started as an assignment for Vogue to photograph workers in Paris during the summer of 1950, and he returned to it over many decades to produce ever more exacting prints.
The acquisition will add to the Getty's collection of portrait photography and complement a major exhibition of 20th-century German photographer August Sander's work that will be mounted in May.