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V&A Museum in London Will House Largest Photography Collection in the World

In a historic and controversial move, England’s National Media Museum will transfer more than four hundred thousand objects from the Royal Photography Society's collection to the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Guardian reports. The works will join the museum’s existing collection of five-hundred-thousand works, making it the largest photography collection in the world.

The agreement is part of a broader initiative by the Science Museum Group, which comprises several museums including the Science Museum and National Railway Museum. After the National Media Museum faced the threat of closing its doors in 2013, the Science and Museum Group decided to shift its focus to science and technology.

Martin Barnes, the senior curator of photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum, said putting the two collections together made “a huge amount of sense … it kick starts a really exciting time for us, for photography.”

However, the director of the Royal Photographic Society, Michael Pritchard expressed concern. “Because of the breadth of photography, in that it covers science, technology and art, we think the story is told much better through a single institution able to deal with all of those,” he said.

The Victoria and Albert Museum intends to create an international photography resource center and double its permanent gallery space for photographs.

Among the objects transferred are the world’s first negative, daguerreotypes, early color photographs, and about eight thousand cameras.