This remarkable collection of more than 14,000 photographs, including 5,600 loose prints, 130 albums and 30 books, captures a century of Scottish life from the 1840s to the 1940s.

The collection was made by Murray MacKinnon, an Aberdeenshire pharmacist and photography enthusiast. Among the most significant works in the acquisition are more than 75 photographs by David Octavius Hill (1802-70) and Robert Adamson (1821-48), two early photographers who began collaborating in Edinburgh in 1843.

Other highlights include portraits by Roger Fenton (1819-69) of Scottish regiments who fought in the Crimean War during the mid-1850s (example pictured), and an iconic view of Loch Katrine in the Scottish Highlands by the pioneering photographer William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-77).

A large number of works in the collection are anonymous and show ordinary Scottish people going about their daily lives, many of them working in shipyards, on farms or as fishermen. The environments depicted range from big cities to remote towns, villages, lochs and mountain ranges. Studies of Glasgow’s slums between 1868 and 1871, by Thomas Annan (1829-87), are also included.

A major exhibition of photographs from the MacKinnon Collection will be held at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in 2019, with touring exhibitions to follow. The entire collection will also be digitised over the next three years and made available online.


Acquired over twenty years by the collector Murray MacKinnon; sold in 2014 to the Archive of Modern Conflict.

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