Go back to article: Contexts for photography collections at the National Media Museum


Since the transfer of the costume collection to the MET, Brooklyn Museum has continued to transform itself into a ‘more populist and inclusive institution’.[68] Audiences are up, with more than 540,000 visitors in 2014 compared to a low point of fewer than 200,000 per year in the late 1990s. Having successfully reengaged with its locality, it now attracts a more diverse audience, forty per cent of whom come from non-white groups, and whose average age has come down from 58 in 1997 to 35 in around 2012.[69] As well as innovative new programmes, the Museum has won plaudits for its innovative approaches to digital engagement.[70]

In her blog post written at the start of the controversy in February 2016, Director Jo Quinton-Tulloch made a direct plea for people to ‘stick with us’. In March 2017 we opened a new interactive gallery, the result of a £1.8m investment by the Science Museum Group, and the foundation for schools and family visits to the Museum. In 2021 we will open a further series of collections-based galleries that will represent a further £5m investment in the building including improvements to visitor facilities and circulation. We have received funding from Google for an innovative science learning programme targeted at some of the most deprived areas of the city, and we are playing a leading role in making the Bradford Science Festival and the new Yorkshire Games Festival successful and sustainable parts of the city’s cultural calendar. Ultimately the decision to transfer the RPS collection is just one of a series of decisions made based on an assessment of the series of contexts that I hope this essay has illuminated. While there are dominant narratives that shape our current political moment, we had to make positive moves in the face of funding cuts. Instead of a museum starved of resources, retreating into itself and mothballing significant holdings, we have chosen to become a museum actively engaged in shaping our collections, ensuring their accessibility and use and deeply engaging with the people who live in Bradford, the city in which we are based.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/170710/005