Victoria and Albert Museum

Above image © Gibson Thornley. Photo Thomas Adank

A new home for photography

The Victoria and Albert Museum, known as the V&A, is the world’s leading museum of art and design. The museum has pioneered photography since its foundation – in 1858 it hosted the first exhibition of photographs to be held in a museum. Today the V&A holds over 800,000 photography objects, one of the largest, broadest and most important photography collections in the world. The museum opened a new Photography Centre in May 2023 where people can enjoy this important collection.

The Kusuma Gallery Photography and the Book is an impressive space at the heart of the V&A’s Photography Centre project which we are proud to have supported with a grant of £2m. It’s home to the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) collection of books, journals and pamphlets, many of which are rare and unique. We are delighted that the space will allow more people to learn from and access the RPS collection and the range of talks and seminars that will be offered in the Kusuma Gallery.

  • 22,500 books, journals, photobooks and pamphlets from the RPS Library are visibly stored in the Kusuma Gallery.
  • The Photography Centre has eight galleries dedicated to photography totalling over 1,000 square metres.
  • Up to 450,000 people will visit the Photography Centre in its first year.

Above image © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Space to explore photography

The Kusuma Gallery will be a key destination for school groups, young people, researchers and general visitors. They’ll be able to explore photography and its impact on our lives in many ways: digital terminals to access to the entire catalogue of the RPS library and films produced for the Centre including on the development film processing from daguerreotype to colour; a browsing library; and, in time, a handling trolley of objects including albums, photographs, cameras, films and negatives tailored to different audiences.

The Kusuma Gallery is a welcoming space for learning with informal and flexible furniture. The room’s design encourages reading, conversation and learning. Activities will include talks with photographers, book viewing sessions with librarians, object handling sessions and seminars. Visiting the Photography Centre, including the Kusuma Gallery, is free.

“The Photography Centre allows us to present our outstanding collections to the public and to showcase the best of contemporary photography. The Kusuma Gallery lies at the very heart of the Centre, a space for study and debate, and encapsulates the V&A’s long engagement with photography and the book. It facilitates dialogue with and between our visitors, the very lifeblood of a public museum.”

Duncan Forbes, Head of the V&A Photography Centre

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