Thursday, 20 January 2011

V&A Prints and Drawings Study Room

On Saturday, I went down to the area of London which is apparently now known as 'Albertopolis' - to explore the V&A Prints and Drawings Study Room.

This was part of my 'Investigating the archive' course.

Here again were prints by Julia Margaret Cameron.  Alongside, was work by Fox Talbot, John Watson, Roger Fenton, Eugene Atget and Gustav Le Gray. 

The prints were more carefully looked after here than in the Rothschild archive: we learnt that the V&A use three sizes of archival box - imperial, semi-imperial and royal.

It was more accesssible too: anyone can get access to the Prints Room and ask for these prints to be brought out for their pleasure.

As well as photography pioneers, a whole range of other photographers are represented.  There are also resource boxes with a range of work to illustrate the history of photography. 

You can search the collections online.

Crimp (1993) suggests, "if photography was in invented in 1839, it was only discovered in the 1960s and 1970s."  However, I think the curators at the V&A might disagree: the first exhibition here (the first in any museum) was in 1858; they have a photograph of it.


Crimp, D. (1993).  On the museum's ruins.  Boston: MIT Press.