After taking almost 170 years to acquire, the V&A will finally be doing full justice to its expansive and important collection of photography with a dedicated seven-room gallery set to open this spring. The Photography Centre will become the UK’s largest space for permanent photography exhibitions, after adding four new rooms to its current space, with a huge range of works dating from the early 19th century to the present day.

Photography is ingrained into the history of the V&A itself, with its first director, Henry Cole, having been an amateur photographer and an ambassador for the art of photography. He started a collection the same year as the South Kensington museum was opened (1856) and it has grown to become over 800,000 strong since then. In 2018, the museum launched phase one of the Photography Centre, featuring three galleries designed by architect David Kohn, and in 2023 the space is set to more than double in size, with new additions designed by Purcell and Gibson Thornley Architects, to complete phase two and three.

Two of the new rooms will centre around global contemporary photography and brand-new commissions, meanwhile, the other two will offer a glimpse inside the processes involved in photography. One will be dedicated to photography and the book, and the other will be an interactive gallery about the history and use of the camera. The existing rooms will be used as spaces for rotating displays and for an exhibition on digital media. Highlights will include works by the likes of Liz Johnson Artur, Sammy Baloji, Vera Lutter, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Tarrah Krajnak and Vasantha Yogananthan, as well as a monumental photographic sculpture by Noémie Goudal, and access to the gallery will be free.

Opens Thurs 25th May 2023
Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL