Bradford Museum Director Defends Plans to Move Photography Collection to London’s V&A

The controversy rages on.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London will become host to the world's largest photography museum Photo: vam.ac.uk/
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London will become host to the world's largest photography museum
Photo: vam.ac.uk

The controversy surrounding the move of the Royal Photography Society’s collection from Bradford to London’s Victoria & Albert Museum rages on.

Earlier this month, over 80 British cultural luminaries, including David Hockney, condemned the Science Museum Group’s (SMG) plans to transfer up to 400,000 items to the London museum, calling it a “backward step” and “cultural vandalism.”

Now, Jo Quinton-Tulloch, director of Bradford’s National Media Museum (NMM), where the collection is currently hosted, has stepped in to defend the plans.

The Guardian reports that Quinton-Tulloch spoke at a Bradford Council committee set up to assess the controversial plans, and argued that the NMM had been forced to take the decision in light of a 30 percent cut to its government funding.

Jo Quinton-Tulloch, director of the National Media Museum in Bradford.<br>Photo: National Media Museum, Bradford.

Jo Quinton-Tulloch, director of the National Media Museum in Bradford.
Photo: National Media Museum, Bradford.

The director also argued that the move wasn’t about privileging London over Bradford, but about making the collection accessible to the largest amount of people.

However, a Freedom of Information request by the Guardian yielded a rather contrasting result: an exhibition showcasing 200 works from the Royal Photography Society’s collection garnered in fact 8,000 more visitors when shown in Bradford than when it travelled to the Science Museum in London.

At the council meeting, Quinton-Tulloch—who was head of exhibitions at London’s Science Museum before taking up the helm at the NMM—also added that the slashed budget had prompted the Bradford museum to rethink its funding strategy and focus on the science of photography, as opposed to fine art photography, which in turn made the V&A a more suitable location to host to take care of and display the collection.

The National Media Museum in Bradford.Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The National Media Museum in Bradford.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The RPS collection gathers historical works by pioneering photographers such as William Henry Fox TalbotJulia Margaret CameronPaul StrandAlfred Stieglitz, and Ansel Adams.

Moreover, two weeks ago, according to the Guardian, the RPS revealed that it had not been consulted about the move and that it would in fact prefer the holdings to remain in Bradford.


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