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National Media Museum appoints new Curator of Photography and Photographic Technology

Dr Geoffrey Belknap, a historian of photography, visual culture and Victorian science, has been appointed Curator of Photography and Photographic Technology at the National Media Museum. He replaces Colin Harding who is undertaking PhD research looking at the work of Horace Nicholls. The Museum is due to announce its new name and re-brand in Spring 2017. 

Dr Belknap has spent a large part of his career studying and writing about photography: in particular its contribution to scientific communication in the Victorian era and the publication of photographs in 19th century periodicals. He has previously worked at Harvard University, leading a team of graduates in a study of Charles Darwin’s personal correspondence and use of photographs at the time On the Origin of Species was being produced. He completed a PhD at Cambridge University which included an analysis of photographic images in the British periodical press in the late 1800s.

Dr Belknap joins the National Media Museum from his current role at the University of Leicester and the Natural History Museum (London). He will complete the academic year as post-doctoral fellow on the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council)-funded Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries project, before taking up the position of curator in June 2017.

From June he will be responsible for the Museum’s collection of photographs and items of photographic equipment, including internationally renowned works and objects from the Daily Herald, Kodak, and Impressions Gallery collections.

Jo Quinton-Tulloch, Director of the National Media Museum, said: “Geoffrey brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Museum, and will oversee the application of our renowned photography collections to our mission of exploring the science and culture of image and sound technologies. His specialist subjects of photography, visual culture and Victorian science are an enticing prospect at a very exciting time for the Museum, as we take a fresh look at how our objects can tell stories which will inspire the scientists and innovators of tomorrow.”

Dr Belknap said: “I am delighted to be joining the team at the National Media Museum, and to have the privilege of curating the world-class photographic collections that it holds. I am keen to integrate my own research experience, which has focused on photography as a reproductive technology within the contexts of the history of science, to the future of the collections, exhibitions and research culture within the Museum. One of the keys to this future will be the development of new crowd sourcing platforms to engage with and improve our knowledge of photographic collections. It is an exciting time to be joining the National Media Museum and I look forward to working with both old and new communities to the Museum and its collections.”

Dr Belknap’s most recent book From a Photograph: Authenticity, Science and the Periodical Press, 1870-1890 was published in November this year, and he has previously authored or co-authored titles including Through the Looking Glass: Photography, Science and Imperial Motivations in John Thomson's Photographic Expeditions and Photographs as Scientific and Social Objects in the Correspondence of Charles Darwin.

The National Media Museum is currently constructing the £1.8m Wonderlab gallery, due to open in spring 2017, which will explore the science of light and sound through 25 state-of-the-art interactive exhibits and experiments. Work also continues on the development of the £5m Sound and Vision gallery, which will showcase the world-firsts and other significant items in the Museum’s photography, cinematography and television collections.

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