Historic collection of photographs returns home to Scotland

An exceptional collection of historic photographs that captures a century of life in Scotland is returning home to be shared with the public.

More than 14,000 images dating from the earliest days of photography through to the 1940s, have been acquired in a special collaboration between the National Library of Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland, with support from the Scottish Government, the National Lottery and Art Fund.

The collection covers an expansive range of subjects including family portraits, working life, street scenes, sporting pursuits, shops, trams, tenements, mountains and monuments. Until now, it was estimated to be the last great collection of Scottish photography still in private hands.

The collection was put together by photography enthusiast Murray MacKinnon, who established a successful chain of film-processing stores in the 1980s, starting from his pharmacy in Dyce, near Aberdeen. MacKinnon sought to create a collection that covered the day-to-day lives of people at all levels of Scottish society, with a focus on working life in both urban and rural settings.

Highlights include more than 600 original photographs from the pioneering days of photography featuring work from David Octavius Hill (1802-1870) and Robert Adamson (1821-1848), James Ross (d.1878) and John Thomson (d.1881), Cosmo Innes (1798-1874) and Horatio Ross (1801-1886).

Art Fund director, Stephen Deuchar said: “We are proud to be able to support both National Library of Scotland and National Galleries of Scotland in acquiring Murray MacKinnon’s unparalleled collection for the nation. It is incredible to have these photographs join a public collection where they can be enjoyed for generations to come through their display and tours as well as digitally."

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