British photographic history

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Birmingham: A new museum for photography? (UPDATED)

Birmingham's Ikon Gallery is proposing a new museum of photography in the city centre's Curzon Street station building. The proposal document states: 'The Curzon Street railway station building, with its impressive classical entrance facing into the centre of Curzon Square, will become Birmingham’s new Museum of Photography, drawing from the extensive collection of the new Library of Birmingham. As well as temporary exhibitions, it will provide displays of local history especially reflective of the people of Birmingham'. Realisation of the scheme would take place over ten years and would also see the relocation of a national art collection as part of the project.

Source magazine spoke to Peter James in its latest issue (Spring 2012) . James, Head of Photographs at Birmingham Central Library welcomed the proposal. However, according to Source which also spoke to Ikon's deputy director Deborah Kermode, the Ikon proposal would see Birmingham Central Library divested of its photography collections which would move to the new museum. At which point James might be less welcoming of the idea especially as the new Birmingham Library due to open in Summer 2013 will be giving the photography collections better storage conditions and a greater prominence than hitherto.   

Source magazine has more on this - click here.

Update: Helen Stallard of Ikon has contacted BPH to update the report above. Helen advises that the Ikon proposal is not to divest Birmingham Central Library of its photography collection. Ikon looks forward to the opening of the new Library of Birmingham which will provide much improved environmental conditions for photographic storage. She notes that the Libray's photography collection "does not have a dedicated gallery, which is where the partnership between the Library and Ikon primarily will bear fruit. The proposed museum of photography will provide a showcase for the collection, freely accessible to the general public".

Ikon is taking the first steps in a long proces with many issues of management and strategy to be resolved. She says: "It is our conviction that the success of the project overall will arise out of vital partnerships and good will (in abundance) between the various institutions involved".  

BPH looks forward to reporting on progress over the coming years.

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Comment by Michael Wong on May 29, 2012 at 18:06

This story has just been reported in the BJP here.

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