Contact CassiLhaus

Chapel Hill North Carolina


Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.
Art is knowing which ones to keep.
Scott Adams


Cassilhaus Collectors' Statement

The Cassilhaus Collection is an idiosyncratic and passionately assembled group of more than 500 contemporary images and objects collected by Ellen Cassilly and Frank Konhaus. The collection represents more than 300 artists of 35 different nationalities, over 90% of whom are living, working artists. Almost 80% of the collection is photography or photo-based work with the balance in works on paper and sculpture. With a few exceptions, the work was produced in the last 50 years.

For me there is an immediacy and simple graphic allure to photography that compels like no other medium. Black & white, color, and various alternative processes are well represented. Ours is a collection as much of stories as it is of images and objects. Many of the artists we collect and gallery owners we patronize have become close friends and most of our favorite works are tightly bound to a story of discovery or a particularly wonderful artist encounter, art fair, or travel adventure. While there is no easily identifiable (to me at least) single focus or theme to the grouping, there is an undeniable unifying gestalt that allows the work to play and evolve together well as a collection.

Ours is a working collection. We don’t have work sitting in flat files (at least not for long.)  Our work is framed and exhibited in our home and workplaces, loaned to museums and arts venues, and used as teaching tools for the many school and museum groups that visit Cassilhaus. It moves around a lot.  With our recent initiative to put our entire collection online for the public to enjoy we hope to share this work we love with an even broader audience. I never could have imagined 20 years ago when I started on this journey how central this passion would be to my life and how essential it would become for both Ellen and I to surround ourselves with works of art, particularly photographs, that surprise, engage, and nourish us.


Frank Konhaus
August 2019




We want to share our collection. Objects and images from the Cassilhaus Collection may be loaned to public institutions with adequate environmental and security conditions for limited periods. Requests should be made in writing. We will consider each request on a case-by-case basis.