Somerset House eyes new photography centre role

Somerset House is considering establishing itself as a national centre of photography, following its announcement last week of the appointment of Gwyn Miles as director.

Somerset House is considering establishing itself as a national centre of photography, following its announcement last week of the appointment of Gwyn Miles as director.

Miles joins the organisation in January after 20 years at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, where she was director of projects and estates

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According to a Somerset House spokeswoman, the idea of a photography centre has ‘been floated for some time and is one of the possibilities [Miles] will consider’.

Somerset House may draw on collections from the V&A and The National Museum of Photography, Film & Television in Bradford. A spokesman at the NMPFT confirms the museum has been ‘talking to potential partners in London’ for some time.

NMPFT head of museum Colin Philpott says, ‘We welcome the prospect of Somerset House raising the profile of photography in the capital. We remain committed to our Bradford base, but are actively seeking to bring our work to the widest possible audience throughout the UK.’

Meanwhile, the NMPFT is to launch a new gallery next summer, with exhibition design by Yorkshire consultancy Redman Design Associates. Called Experience TV, the £3m gallery will focus on interactive exhibits.

The NMPFT claims to have one of the largest collections of television ephemera in the world that, to date, has only been partially displayed.

The current gallery is over ten years old and Experience TV will be an expanded space where visitors can explore a replica studio, read the news, operate a camera and take part in workshop programmes. The museum’s collection of television sets will also be on display.

According to a spokeswoman for Redman Design Associates, the challenge lies in unifying two disparate spaces, while allowing room for expansion.

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