V&A to become home to the UK's largest photography collection

V&A Photography Collection
(Image credit: V&A)

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, England, is set to become the UK’s largest space for permanent photography exhibitions. The dedicated 7-room gallery will open in 2023 after almost 170 years in the works. 

Home to 2.8 million objects, books and archives, the V&A is one of the world's leading art and design museums, attracting more than 4.3 million visitors each year. It holds some of the greatest collections of furniture, fashion, textiles, ceramics and jewelry, as well as resources for the study of architecture, theater and performance. 

Photography has always been an integral part of the museum's collections, and this new addition will cement its place as a photography destination. Henry Cole was the first director of the V&A and an amateur photographer himself; it was he who started the photography collection in 1856 when the South Kensington museum first opened. 

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The brand new Photography Centre has been designed by Purcell and fitted by Gibson Thornley Architects, who also worked on the V&A Frida Kahlo exhibition. Four additional rooms will pay homage to photography works dating back to the 19th Century. In total, the V&A’s photography collection comprises more than 800,000 photos dating back to 1839, covering a range of styles and techniques that blur the lines between science and art. 

Exhibitions currently on long-term display at the V&A include works by Henri Cartier-Bresson, who famously coined the term "the decisive moment"; Alfred Stieglitz, who was married to Georgia O’Keefe; and Julia Margaret Cameron, who created more than 900 large format portraits. 

Many of the exhibitions at the V&A are free to visit. For a full list of what’s on and which exhibits are ticketed, head to the V&A website (opens in new tab) where you can also find more information about the museum's extensive collections. 

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.