Visual Studies Workshop nurtures experimental and expansive approaches to photography and media arts, and builds community among artists and the public through exhibitions, publications and residencies.

VSW envisions a society that values the human need to create and share ideas.

Our story

VSW was founded in 1969 in Rochester, New York by artist and curator Nathan Lyons (1930–2016). Rooted in Lyons’ progressive vision of the “workshop idea,” VSW became one of the earliest independent, not-for-profit, artist-run spaces in the country.

Over 50 years later VSW’s core programs continue to reflect our mission and include VSW Press, VSW Salon (formerly the VSW Film Series), Project Space Artist Residencies, and Artist Education programs, as well as a research collection and art library with over a million still and moving images and 40,000 books for artists, critics and the general public to explore, research and reuse.

VSW’s archives and programs support, promote, and explore artist’s works, artist’s studio practice, artist publications, as well as artist and curator critical writing. VSW offers crucial support to artists and curators and provides affordable or free programming around these activities for our community, both onsite and online. 

  • Address

    Visual Studies Workshop

    31 Prince Street

    Rochester, New York 14607

    (585) 204-0077

  • Nathan Lyons Research

    Center Hours

    Tuesday–Friday: 10am–5pm

  • Bookstore Hours

    Tuesday–Friday: 10am–5pm


  • We would like to acknowledge that we are on the ancestral home of the Seneca people of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Today, Rochester has been – and is – home to many indigenous people.

    We would like to take a moment to consider the many legacies of violence, displacement, genocide, and migration that bring us together here today, and to build an ongoing awareness of our responsibility to actively participate in healthy reciprocal relations.