Eadweard Muybridge, Man performing a handstand on stairs, 1887, Collotype © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

V&A reveals new focus on photography

Simon Stephens, 12.04.2017
New centre to be created following transfer of Royal Photographic Society collection
The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is to create a Photography Centre in its South Kensington building following the transfer of the Royal Photographic Society collection from the Science Museum Group (SMG).

The collection, which includes more than 270,000 photographs, 26,000 publications and 6,000 pieces of camera-related equipment, had been housed at SMG’s National Media Museum in Bradford.

But it was announced early last year that the items were to be transferred to the V&A, with the media museum shifting its focus to the science of photography, film and television. The site was recently renamed the National Science and Media Museum.

The creation of the Photography Centre, designed by David Kohn Architects, will see the V&A more than double its current photography display area by 2018. Following this, a second phase will expand the gallery space to provide a teaching and research space, a browsing library, and a studio and darkroom to enable photographers’ residencies.

“The V&A’s Photography Centre will be one of the few places in the world where a chronological history of the medium illustrated with original photographs, equipment and archive material can always be seen,” said Martin Barnes, the senior curator of photographs at the V&A. “We want to reach beyond restrictive definitions of photography to embrace the broader cultures of the medium.”

The Photography Centre is part of the ongoing FuturePlan project to redevelop the South Kensington museum.