Project archivist Victoria Brokenshire:
On Thursday 11th August I took the train to Bradford to visit the National Media Museum. I had arranged to meet up with collections assistant Lewis Pollard to discuss and view examples of best practice for glass negative storage, which would be of benefit to the George Street Photography collection.
Before meeting up with Lewis I had time to explore the museum, starting with the temporary exhibition ‘In Your Face’, a fantastic family-orientated exploration of faces, expressions, the meaning of self and ideas of beauty.
Other highlights from the exhibitions include ‘Life Online’, exploring the impact of the internet, ‘Experience TV’, illustrating the development of television with interactive studios and the Games Lounge, featuring some classic arcades. Zippy and George, some Wombles, Gordon the Gopher, Wallace & Gromit and others are also permanently residing in the museum!
I then headed down to the lower ground floor to check out the Kodak Gallery. The space was busy and it was great to see young children comparing the cameras on their parents smart phones to early large wooden cameras. The collection includes the fascinating development of photography, with many examples of cameras and equipment.
At the back of the Kodak Gallery, there is the Insight Centre, where I met up with Lewis Pollard. Lewis enthusiastically introduced himself and after a quick overview of the museum and facilities available, then led the way back to a storeroom containing the Daily Herald Archive, with some untouched negatives still in original packaging. We then headed to a second storeroom with glass negatives stored in archival standard conditions. These negatives are in individual paper housings, stacked upright of their longest edge, within a fit-for-purpose cabinet.
Another amazing collection currently held at the National Media Museum is of the Royal Photographic Society. This collection also contains some glass negatives, including many early examples. Due to the delicate nature and non-uniform sizes, these negatives are packaged individually and laid flat in special foam-lined drawers.
Thank you to Lewis for an informative and interesting tour, great knowledge and enthusiasm! The trip gave me great inspiration for storage solutions for the George Street Photography collection. The National Media Museum is free entry, a great day out and tours of the photography collection are open to all.