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Sian Bonnell, ‘Camera IV: Manners VIII’, 2011. Museum no. E.821-2014, © Sian Bonnell

Sian Bonnell, ‘Camera IV: Manners VIII’, 2011. Museum no. E.821-2014, © Sian Bonnell

A History of Photography: Series and Sequences

6 February – 1 November 2015

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 in the UK to collect photographs and in 1858, the first to hold a photography exhibition. 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. The display focuses on the wider visions of photographers through series and sequences of images, and features Lewis Baltz, Sian Bonnell, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Harold Edgerton, Masahisa Fukase, Sally Mann, Eadweard Muybridge, Nicholas Nixon, Liz Rideal, Josef Sudek and Sze Tsung Leong.

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.

Private Group Tours & Talks

We offer a wide range of tours to meet your group requirements. Whether a group has a special area of interest, wishes to explore a particular gallery or just get an overview of the Museum's collection the Groups Team can help.

View our Private Group Tours & Talks