The Parasol Foundation Women in Photography Project

The Parasol Foundation Women in Photography Project is a major new international curatorial programme that supports women in photography. Generously funded by Ms. Ruth Monicka Parasol and the Parasol Foundation Trust, the project encompasses a new curatorial post and an ambitious programme of activity that spans acquisitions, commissions, research, education, displays and events.

In line with the V&A's wider commitment to be a more accessible, diverse and inclusive space for everyone interested in art and design, The Parasol Foundation Women in Photography Project aims to address historic gender imbalances by foregrounding and sustaining women's practice in photography and investigating the role women have played throughout the history of the medium, including here in South Kensington.

With an online presence to reach and engage with new audiences, the project has a dedicated Instagram account, @vamparasolwomenphoto, which highlights work by women artists from our extensive photography collection and news on our evolving programme.

A colour photograph of a woman shown from the chest up in 3/4 profile. Her head is surrounded by a crown of flowers.
Mrs Longdon as Persephone, photograph by Madame Yevonde, 1935, London, modern dye transfer print, about 1990. Museum no. RPS.3387-2018. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Collection highlights

Women photographers have played a vital role in the history of photography at the V&A. In 1865 the museum became the first institution to collect and exhibit the work of pioneering photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, and today the collection houses the largest number of Cameron prints in the world – over 900. The photography collection features several other works by significant 19th-century women artists, including Lady Clementina Hawarden, Anna Atkins and Gertrude Käsebier. However, for every 'successful' female photographer, there are many whose histories and contributions remain untold. The Parasol Foundation Women in Photography Project aims to identify and celebrate these hidden stories, with a substantial focus on contemporary women artists and artists of colour. We aim to engage with the gaps in the museum's collection through our acquisitions, commissions, research and public programme, and redress the historic gender imbalance by acquiring pieces for our permanent collection.

The first acquisition made by the Parasol Foundation Women in Photography Project is by Peruvian artist Tarrah Krajnak who 'critiques' the canon of Westernised photography to reimagine, replay and reclaim it as an Indigenous woman of colour. Her interests include the notion of the 'archive' – specifically what and who is remembered, and how.


The V&A Parasol Foundation Women in Photography programme emphasises our commitment to supporting female practitioners and championing contemporary photography, through a dynamic series of events and exhibitions. With a strong remit to diversify audiences, the project can often be found in off-site locations and in partnership with other photography institutions.

A landscape of hills. In the centre of the photograph a group of black dressed women are sitting on a sofa facing forwards.
Iran, Untitled, photograph by Gohar Dashti, 2014, Iran, archival inkjet print. Museum no. E.823:8-2014. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London


For the latest updates on our programme, events, interviews and acquisitions, please see the V&A blog.

The V&A Parasol Foundation Prize for Women in Photography

In partnership with Peckham 24

The V&A Parasol Foundation Prize for Women in Photography is an exciting new annual initiative dedicated to identifying, supporting, and championing innovative women artists working in the field of contemporary photography.

Successful photographers will be selected by an independent selection panel consisting of global industry professionals and inspiring international artists. Our selectors will identify a shortlist of ten artists, with five selected for a group exhibition in May 2023. Each shortlisted artist will receive a bursary of £2,000 and participate in scheduled networking events to support career development.

The prize seeks to foreground and sustain women's practice in contemporary photography and highlight the role women have played throughout the history of the medium. Produced in partnership with Peckham 24, south London's innovative three-day photography festival, the prize represents a remit shared by all parties to amplify the voices of women, champion diversity and promote equality in the arts.

Supported by Ms. Ruth Monicka Parasol and The Parasol Foundation Trust

Header image: Papaver orientale by Anna Atkins, 1852 – 54, cyanotype. Museum no. PH.381-1981. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London