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National Museum Wales acquires David Hurn Collection of Photography

Magnum photographer, David Hurn has donated over 2200 photographs from his own work and those he has swapped with other Magnum photographers to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. Hurn is one of Britain’s most influential documentary photographers. Of Welsh descent, he lives and works in Wales. 

His generous gift comprises two parts: approximately 1500 of his own photographs that span his sixty-year career as a documentary photographer; and approximately 700 photographs from his private collection which he has compiled throughout the course of his career.A selection of works from Hurn’s private collection will be on display for the first time at National Museum Cardiff from 30 September 2017, in Swaps: Photographs from the David Hurn Collection of Photography, an exhibition that launches the Museum’s new gallery dedicated to photography.

Hurn has amassed his private collection over the past six decades, predominantly through swapping works with fellow photographers, including many of his Magnum colleagues. In doing so he has assembled a significant and diverse collection that includes leading 20th and 21st century photographers such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eve Arnold, Sergio Larrain, Bill Brandt, Martine Franck, Bruce Davidson and Martin Parr, through to emerging photographers such as Bieke Depoorter, Clementine Schneidermann and Diana Markosian.

Over the last two years, Hurn has been selecting photographs from his own archive to create a definitive edit of his life’s work. The collection of approximately 1500 new prints includes work made in Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland, Arizona, California and New York. It includes some of Hurn’s most celebrated photographs, such as Queen Charlotte’s Ball, Barbarella and Grosvenor Square. However, it is his carefully observed photographs of his home country of Wales that are the focus of the collection. Following his generous gift, National Museum Wales is now the institution with the largest holdings of Hurn’s work worldwide.

David Hurn said, “My earliest visual/cultural memories are visiting the museum when I must have been four or five. I remember the naughty statue - Rodin’s ‘The Kiss’ - and cases full of stuff that people had donated. Well now I have the chance to repay, something of mine will be there forever, I feel very privileged.” National Museum Wales’ existing photography collections are uniquely inter-disciplinary and span subjects including Art, Social and Industrial History and the Natural Sciences. Importantly it includes some of the earliest photographs taken in Wales by pioneering photographer John Dillwyn Llewelyn and his family. The addition of Hurn’s gift will transform the Museum’s photography collections and provide exciting opportunities for expanding the collections in new ways.

David Anderson, Director General of Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales: “This exceptional donation by David Hurn will raise the profile of Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales as an important centre for photography in the UK. We know that photography appeals to our visitors and the exhibition in September launches the Museum’s first ever permanent gallery dedicated to photography. We are extremely grateful to David Hurn for this generous gift, which will drive this important and much needed photography programme for Amgueddfa Cymru, benefiting the people of Wales and those further afield.

The exhibition at National Museum Cardiff follows an earlier presentation of Hurn’s collection at Photo London, the international photography event held annually at Somerset House in London. Curated by Martin Parr and David Hurn, the Photo London exhibition marks the 70th anniversary of Magnum Photos.

Hurn will be speaking about his collection with Martin Parr as part of the Talks Programme at Photo London on Friday 19 May

Image: David Hurn,  Outdoor group fitness early in the morning in the retirement Sun City, 1980. © David Hurn/MAGNUM PHOTOS

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