Gertrude Käsebier, Portrait of Evelyn Nesbit, 1902, from the Royal Photographic Society collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

V&A Announces Plans for New Photography Center

The Victoria and Albert Museum will more than double its exhibition space for nineteenth-century photography with its new photography center, set to open in the fall of 2018. Designed by David Kohn Architects, the space will also boast teaching and research rooms, a library, and a studio and darkroom for artist residencies.

The expansion will house the Royal Photographic Society collection, comprising four hundred thousand prints and other materials, which the V&A acquired from the Bradford Media Museum in a controversial move last year. After the transfer agreement between the V&A and the Science Museum Group, which runs the Bradford, was announced in February 2016, it led to a public outcry. David Hockney, Paul Joyce, and Martin Parr are among the artists, curators, scholars, and museum professionals who signed an open letter admonishing the removal of the collection from the Bradford, calling it “a backwards step.” Some critics have even described the deal as “an act of cultural rape” on the city.

Martin Barnes, senior curator of photographs at the V&A, told The Guardian that “the debate about where [the collection] should sit in the country, and how we interpret it, has been very galvanizing for me and my team and the museum . . . I hope it will be a pleasant surprise for those who were upset by the move, that we will very rapidly be able to make the collections more accessible than they’ve ever been.”