MPs call for Royal Photographic Society collection move to be halted - Museums Association

MPs call for Royal Photographic Society collection move to be halted

Concerns that Bradford’s NMM will also suffer from the loss of the International Film Festival
Nicola Sullivan
Two MPs from Bradford have called for the transfer of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) collection from the National Media Museum (NMM) to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to be halted.

The move would see 400,000 objects, including the 270,000 that make up the society’s collection held by Bradford’s NMM, join the V&A’s existing collection of 500,000 photographs to create the International Photography Resource Centre.

Bradford East MP Imran Hussain said that the decision to move the photography collection and cancel the International Film Festival hosted by the NMM would affect the museum’s drawing power and was worrying for the city’s prospects.

“I will therefore be urging the NMM and the Science Museum Group to consider the impact that the photography collection’s move will have on Bradford and halt the transfer, look again at the decision to cancel the Bradford International Film Festival which draws people from all over the world, and maintain the name of the Museum as it is,” he said.

Hussain also said he was concerned that no MPs were consulted on the changes to the NMM, which were decided by a board of trustees in London.

His concerns were echoed by Judith Cummins, MP for Bradford South. “There has been a complete lack of transparency and consultation both with local MPs and the Bradford community at large.” 

She added: “We cannot have decisions about our city and our region being made by the ‘greater good’ in London. I’m determined to fight for the future of the National Media Museum and preserve our rich heritage for future generations. Our museum must remain a national museum and a beacon for culture in the north.”

Jo Quinton-Tulloch, the director of the NMM, said the changes follow a reduction in running costs and the museum's new focus on the science and culture of light and sound and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects.

Commenting on the dropping of the International Film Festival in a recent blog post she said: "I'd like to reiterate that film remains a very important part of our future plans, but our festival programme as it stood was unsustainable.

"We are continuing to do film festivals of international stature – such as an extended Widescreen Weekend – that welcome guest speakers and cinema goers from around the world. We are proud that Bradford is a Unesco City of Film, and we truly welcome opportunities to work with other organisations who can help us make this city the place to see and experience film."

Over the next year, with a £1.5m investment from the Science Museum Group, the NMM will be creating an interactive gallery dedicated to the science of light, sound and perception.

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