London’s Controversial Upcoming Photography Space

BY Katrina Kufer / Apr 17 2017 / 20:49 PM

The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A) announces it is opening a new photography centre

London’s Controversial Upcoming Photography Space
© Nermine Hammam; Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Nermine Hammam. (Detail) The Break. 2011. Archival inkjet print.

In autumn 2018, the V&A will launch a new space designed by David Kohn Architects displaying its vast photography collection alongside that of the Royal Photographic Society (RPS). Six thousand camera-related objects, 26,000 publications and 270,000 photographs from the RPS collection will be added to the 500,000 piece collection of the V&A amassed since 1852. The new space will be one of the most extensive, comprehensive and critical collections of photography in the world and includes photographers such as Alfred Stieglitz, Ansel Adams and Cecil Beaton.

While the decision last year to move the RPS collection to the V&A initially sparked controversy, with over 80 London-based creatives campaigning to halt the transfer, the news that it would be housed in a new institution has calmed the backlash. “Today, the V&A cares for one of the most important photography collections in the world,” said Tristram Hunt, V&A director, in a statement and indicated it would be working closely with RPS on sharing the collection in situ as well as through “an unparalleled digital resource.”

The opening date is yet to be announced, but will coincide with a museum-wide photography festival, the online digital resource and a history of photography course run with the Royal College of Art. Future plans include a more developed in-house teaching and research facility, a library, and studio and dark room to host artist residencies.

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