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V&A announces new Curatorial Fellowship in Photography

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) announces a new Curatorial Fellowship in Photography. Generously supported by The Bern Schwartz Family Foundation, the fellowship will run for the next four years. The Curatorial Fellowship follows the Foundation’s ongoing support of the V&A and its significant donation towards the museum’s recently-opened Photography Centre, for which gallery 100 was renamed ‘The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery’ after the businessman and portrait photographer and his wife.

The first fellowship of its kind in photography at the V&A, the scheme will see two fellows join the museum over consecutive two-year periods. The initiative arises from The Bern Schwartz Family Foundation’s desire to give early scholars of photography the opportunity to acquire invaluable museum experience and specialist knowledge working alongside the Photography Section’s accomplished curatorial team. Fellows will gain expertise in the history of photography and contribute substantially to the museum’s knowledge of its world-renowned collection that includes over 800,000 photographs.

A focus for each fellow will be an independent research project based on the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) collection, which was transferred to the V&A in 2017. Exploring areas of strength such as portraiture, colour photography and photographic process, all themes of interest to Bern Schwartz and the Foundation, each fellow will spend three months in the V&A Research Institute (VARI). Using an accompanying travel fund also provided by The Bern Schwartz Family Foundation, the fellows will also travel nationally and internationally to share their expertise and further their study of the photographic medium.

Applications will open via the V&A website on 25 April and close on 27 May with the first fellow commencing in autumn 2019. Details can be found here

Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A, said: “We are enormously grateful to The Bern Schwartz Family Foundation for their generosity in supporting our Photography Centre and mission to make photography available to the widest possible audience. The V&A is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of creative thinkers. This Curatorial Fellowship in Photography will give emerging curators the chance to deepen their own knowledge and expertise while furthering scholarship around the museum’s world-class photography collections.

Michael Schwartz, Chairman of The Bern Schwartz Family Foundation, and Anne Varick Lauder, Senior Advisor, said: “We are delighted to continue supporting the V&A’s Photography Section and its talented team of curators. By directly working with them and the objects in their care, the fellows will gain invaluable on-hands experience essential for furthering their careers in photography. Bern Schwartz was passionate about education and the mentoring experience. His career as a portrait photographer was immeasurably advanced by learning directly from the legendary photographer, Philippe Halsman.”

The Bern Schwartz Family Foundation were the first major funder to support the V&A’s new Photography Centre, which was opened by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge in October 2018. The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery, a refurbished 19th-century picture gallery, is currently host to a major display entitled Collecting Photography: From Daguerreotype to Digital, which explores photography as a way of ‘collecting the world’. An extension to the Photography Centre is scheduled to open in 2022 and will expand the V&A’s photography offer further with new and exciting ways for visitors to encounter this diverse and dynamic art form.

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