V&A to open new Photographs Gallery as Futureplan rolls on

A new, permanent Photographs Gallery is set to open at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in October,  designed in-house,  but with consultancy from English Heritage, chronicling the history of photography from 1839-1960.

The gallery, which was previously a study space, is the latest project in the museum’s Futureplan which has seen galleries redesigned, outside areas repurposed and collections displayed in new ways.

The refurbishment of the Photographs Gallery space will see architectural details restored, including ten ‘semi-circular paintings’ which were originally commissioned in the 1860s as part of the original decoration in the space.

Senior curator of photographs at the V&A Martin Barnes is overseeing the new gallery. He says a doorway is being opened up in the space – ’A blind archway. We’ve found the original doors inside it.’

This, Barnes says, fits in with the Museum’s plans to ’reinstate original structures where possible’.

According to the V&A this was ‘to illustrate the principles of art education and show the highest achievements from the history of art’.

Integrated into the new gallery design will be the oldest photograph in the V&A collection, a daguerrotype (the first commercial photographic process), a botanical photograph  created without a camera in 1854 and two In Focus sections which look at the work of photographers in depth.

The £120m Future Plan project has already seen the opening of the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries, designed by McInnes Usher McKnight Architects in 2009, the Softroom-designed Sackler Centre for arts education in 2008 and most recently the commissioning of Amanda Lavette Architects’ design for the Development of the Exhibition Road Entrance following an international design competition this year.

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