Melrose Abbey Albumen print,  40.6cm x 50.8cm, Collection: National Galleries of Scotland, MacKinnon Collection, acquired jointly with the National Library of Scotland with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Scottish Government and Art Fund

MacKinnon collection of Scottish photography secured for the nation

Eleanor Mills, 16.05.2018
Acquisition of 14,000 photos documenting 100 years to go on show
Edinburgh’s National Library of Scotland (NLS) and National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) have acquired a significant collection of historic photographs with support from the Scottish government, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Art Fund.

The collection was put together by the private collector and photography enthusiast Murray MacKinnon, who established a successful chain of film-processing stores in the 1980s, starting from his pharmacy in Dyce, near Aberdeen.

The collection includes more than 14,000 images and dates from the earliest days of photography in the 1840s through to the 1940s, capturing a century of life in Scotland. The photographs provide a visual record of how Scotland has changed physically, socially and economically over that time.

Covering a range of subjects – family portraits, working life, street scenes, sporting pursuits, shops, trams, tenements, mountains and monuments – the collection was one of the last great collections of Scottish photography still in private hands.

The MacKinnon collection was acquired with £125,000 each from the NLS and NGS, with £350,000 coming from the HLF, £300,000 from the Scottish government, and £100,000 from the Art Fund.

Culture secretary, Fiona Hyslop, said: "The MacKinnon collection is one of the most remarkable collections of Scottish photography and an invaluable resource for researchers, students and the wider public.

"I am delighted that £300,000 of Scottish government funding has supported the acquisition, curation, touring and digitisation of this collection, preventing it from being broken up or sold overseas. Our rich cultural and artistic heritage plays an intrinsic part in boosting our economy and tackling inequalities.

"I commend the National Galleries of Scotland and National Library of Scotland for their achievement in ensuring that this unique collection can now be enjoyed by the people of Scotland, enabling the public to learn more about our fascinating early photography tradition.”

An exhibition of the MacKinnon collection will be held at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 2019, with touring exhibitions around the country to follow. The entire collection will be digitised over the next three years and made available online.