Room 100: Photographs Gallery

Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, ‘Whitby Upper Harbour’. Museum no: 201-1976.

Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, ‘Whitby Upper Harbour’. Museum no: 201-1976.

The Photographs Gallery draws upon the V&A’s internationally renowned collection of photographs, and chronicles the history of photography from 1839 up to the present day. In 1852 the V&A became the first museum to collect photographs and in 1858 was the first to exhibit them. Its collection is now among the most important in the world, and forms the UK’s national collection of the art of photography.

The Photographs Gallery celebrates the creative language and visual appeal of photographs in their many forms, and showcases some of the most technically brilliant and artistically accomplished photographs in the museum's collection.

Temporary displays, primarily showcasing contemporary photography, will be shown in Room 38A.


About the redevelopment

The Photographs Gallery was first opened to the public on 24 October 2011, the V&A’s . The gallery had an inaugural display of works by key figures of photographic history including Victorian portraits by Julia Margaret Cameron and significant works by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, Afred Stieglitz, Diane Arbus and Irving Penn. The gallery display is changed periodically.

The redeveloped space was formerly part of the National Competition Gallery, and had originally been decorated with 20 large, semi-circular paintings illustrating the principles and practices of art education with imagery evoking the highest achievements from the history of art.

These lunette paintings were stored at the outbreak of the Second World War, where they would remain for 70 years. As part of FuturePlan, which aims to reinstate the V&A’s original decoration where possible, the lunettes have now returned to the Photographs Gallery space after extensive conservation.

Read more about the lunette paintings

This development was completed as part of FuturePlan

FuturePlan is transforming the V&A by revitalising visitor facilities and redisplaying the collections. Using the best architects and designers, we are bringing the V&A into the 21st century and restoring modern design and innovation to the heart of the museum.

The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945 - 2014

5 April - 27 July 2014. The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945 - 2014 is a comprehensive look at Italian Fashion from the end of the Second World War to the present day. The story is explored through the key individuals and organisations that have contributed to Italy's reputation for quality and style.

Visit the V&A exhibition The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945 - 2014

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Leigh Bowery Looks: Photographs 1988-1994 (Paperback)

Leigh Bowery Looks: Photographs 1988-1994 (Paperback)

Leigh Bowery (1961-1994) was a performance artist, fashion designer, nightclub sensation, art object, aspiring pop-star and above all an icon whose in…

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Event - A History of Photography

Sat 18 January 2014–Sat 17 January 2015

DISPLAY: The Photographs Gallery draws upon the V&A’s internationally renowned collection and chronicles the history of photography from the 1840s up to the present day.

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