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V&A - The Photography Centre

Updated: May 24, 2023

The newly revamped photography centre at the V&A will reopen just in time for May half term.

The biggest space in the UK to house a permanent photography collection, the area has doubled in size expanding into four new galleries (one of which used to be broom cupboard)! Showcasing just 600 of the 800,000 items owned in the V&A's collection the seven gleaming galleries pay a wonderful homage to photographic history.

Big Bang 1986 - Brain Griffin

The first two rooms are as brilliant as ever. Opening in 2018 they tell the story of photography from the very first flashing light bulb right up to modern day dynamic contemporary practices. There are heaps of big names here from Henry Fox Talbot to Brain Griffin and Julia Margaret Cameron. We were particularly taken by Jo Spence's challenge on the female stereotype below.

The next room contains the new Digital Gallery featuring a glitchy AI projection of a selection of drag queens AKA 'The Zizi Show' created by Jake Elwes. Formed totally by computer we found it a little sinister (rather the point me thinks).

At the centre of all the galleries is a beautiful new library housing the Royal Photographic Society's archive. Most of the books are out of bounds but there's a small selection of coffee table books to leaf through and some comfy seats for tired legs.

The last two galleries, house work by contemporary artists with a further room with a fun Camera Obscura cubicle (this was the broom cupboard) and a section of vintage kodak cameras.

If you have a budding photographer a trip here should be at the top of your London outing list.



By Julia Colls 22 May 2023


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