Five UK photography collections

  • 19 September 2013

To celebrate the launch of the Science Museum's new Media Space, we've chosen the greatest collections of photography to see across the country.

1. National Media Museum, Bradford

This gem of a museum in West Yorkshire is home to the UK's National Photography Collection, which in turn incorporates a number of smaller collections. The Daily Herald Archive chronicles British life from 1911 to the mid-1960s through over 3 million photographs and the world-famous Royal Photographic Society Collection charts 150 years of photography, while further collections explore advertising photos and the history of photographic technology.

2. Science Museum, London

The Science Museum's newly opened Media Space is a London home for the National Photography Collection, showcasing images from the National Media Museum's archives in a series of major exhibitions. Its inaugural show is Only in England: Photographs by Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr, an exploration of two photographers who found inspiration in the eccentricities of English society.

3. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh

Established in 1984 with a remit to collect Scottish and international photographs, the Scottish National Photography Collection has developed a world-class holding of early photography dating back to the 1840s. Housed in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the collection includes important works by David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson.

​4. Victoria and Albert Museum, London

In 1858, when it was still known as the South Kensington Museum, the V&A hosted the world's first exhibition of photography, consisting of 1,009 photographs contributed by members of the Photographic Society of London. Today the museum features a Photography Gallery with a permanent exhibition of works form its internationally renowned photography collection, including the Art Fund Collection of Middle Eastern Photography.

5. The Photographers' Gallery, London

Britain's first independent gallery dedicated to photography opened in a converted Lyon's Tea Bar on Great Newport Street in 1971. Since then, the Photographers' Gallery has hosted the first UK exhibitions of some of the biggest names in international photography, from Sebastião Salgado to Taryn Simon. While it doesn't have a collection of its own, the gallery has hosted shows drawn from a wide range of sources, from the London Fire Brigade archives to the collection of high-street studio photographer Harry Jacobs.

Tags: What to seeExhibitionsGreat days out