Photography Centre, Rooms 99 – 101

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The V&A began acquiring photographs in 1852, and its collection is now one of the largest and most important in the world.

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The history of the photography collection in the V&A is closely connected with the development of the Museum as a whole. Its first director, Henry Cole, was an amateur photographer himself and a great supporter of the art of photography. He began a photography collection in 1856, the year that the South Kensington Museum, now the V&A, was established. Since then, the collection has grown to be international in scope and comprises over 800,000 photographs dating from 1839 to the present. Photography can be seen as a combination of science and art, in which advances in technique continually feed creativity and artistic achievement.

Collection Highlights

Queen Elizabeth II, photograph, C-type print, by Cecil Beaton, 1953, London, England
Rockerfeller Center and Chrysler Building Tops, New York, gelatin-silver print, by Ilse Bing, 1936, New York, US
African Homeboy - Brixton, photograph, Fujifilm C-type print, by Normski, 1987, London, England
Christine Keeler beside chair, 1963, photograph, gelatin silver print, by Lewis Morley, 1963, London, England
Papaver Orientale, photograph, cyanotype, by Anna Atkins 1852 – 54, Britain
Birth of Milk Drop 1, photograph, by Harold Edgerton, about 1935