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Campaign to honour Lacock's Fox Talbot

A recent article which might be of interest to fellow BPH bloggers come from The Wiltshire Times dated 20/2/2010 which reads as follows:

Photographer Trevor Porter has started a campaign to have February 11 called Fox Talbot Day, in memory of the photographic pioneer Henry Fox Talbot who was born on that day in 1800.

Mr Porter organised a dinner for photographers from Wiltshire and beyond at The George Inn in Lacock last Thursday to kick off his campaign. Fox Talbot is considered to be one of the founding fathers of modern photography and 2010 is the 175th anniversary of the year that he created the first photographic negative.

About 45 people attended the dinner, held just before the Fox Talbot museum reopened to the public following a revamp on Saturday. Museum curator Roger Watson also attended. Mr Porter said: “It was a celebration dinner and we hope to have it every year. I would like to see February 11 called Fox Talbot Day in recognition of his importance to modern photography.”

Among the guests at the dinner were Fox Talbot’s great-great-granddaughter Janet Burnett Brown and John Taylor, the great-great-grandson of Joseph Foden, the carpenter who made the first camera for Fox Talbot. The George Inn’s restaurant was built on land that was once Foden’s carpentry workshop.

Photo: Janet Burnett Brown, the great-great-granddaughter of William Henry Fox Talbot, and John Taylor, the great-great-grandson of Joseph Foden, the man who made the first camera, with museum curator Roger Watson in the Fox Talbot corner of The George Inn.
Copyright Trevor Porter/Wiltshire Times
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From 1st to 3rd May 2010, the Fox Talbot Museum in Wiltshire is to hold a special photography festival to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the photographic negative. The negative process was discovered by William Henry Fox Talbot in 1835. Refer to 'Events' for further info.

The official press release is as follows:
Wiltshire’s Fox Talbot Museum in the village of Lacock is to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the photographic negative with a series of special events throughout the summer. The discovery of the process of reproducing images through negatives was made by former Lacock Abbey owner William Henry Fox Talbot in 1835, when he reproduced a grainy image of a window in Lacock Abbey.

This pioneering discovery has changed the world forever, enabling future generations to capture the lives and world around them, something which had only previously been possible through talented painters. The creation of the photographic negative is well documented in Fox Talbot Museum & Village which was created in honour of Henry.

The museum is open year round and from 1st to 3rd May, 2010 is organising a special photography festival to celebrate the anniversary. Other special anniversary events will continue to occur throughout the year.

Bryn Jones of VisitWiltshire’s Tourism Partnerhship says, “It’s quite fitting that we will be celebrating the birth of photography in Lacock, Wiltshire this year, as the village has become famous as the location of many a feature film and TV drama. Capturing these using modern day camera equipment would have been unthinkable without the pioneering efforts of early photography by William Henry Fox Talbot 175 years ago.

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Last year BPH reported that Derek Wood's excellent website dealing with his publications and research was to close early in 2010 (click here to see the original posting). Derek Wood has emailed to say that the 'Midley History of early Photography' will now continue to be permanently available. The British Library has archived it at the UK Webarchive and it can be found here:

The archiving has been done well without any missing pages, images or links. It will continue to be live at the original address until July.

The Midley site also had a subdomain, 'Midley Search39 on History of Photography' ( ) intended to provide a way of making a single search over approximately thirty-nine websites judged by Wood to be of high value for the history of photography. Sadly, that will go off line in July. The UK WebArchive have rightly decided, that as 'Search39' depended on an external service, that it was not appropriate to archive it along with the main site. However, all is not lost, for the Midley Search39 facility will remain available at least for several, or many, years at a Google Custom Search engine (CSE) page at

This is excellent news. As anyone who has read Derek Wood's published papers and research notes knows they remain key texts for their respective subjects. Their continued availability outside of their original publications is to be warmly welcomed.

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For the Love of Photography ...

From your cousins across the Atlantic, I read of an early photography specialist dealer of 19th and early 20th century photographs from New York, Hans P. Kraus Jr, who for a recent exhibition has painstakingly created an entire room evocative of the ancestral home of William Henry Fox Talbot. There’s a replica of the photographer’s Lacock Abbey oriel window from one of his early images. It has a false bay window with a misty view of a gnarly old tree outdoors copied from a photograph that Fox Talbot shot from one of his windows ! - see photo.

On loan are objects from the 12th-century Wiltshire home, including Talbot’s evanescent 1839 Roofline of Lacock Abbey. It's $400,000 for the image, which measures about 4 inches by 5 inches. Another photo of St. Mary’s Church is tagged at $350,000, telling of its scarcity. A glass-top case displays the print from which the tree in the window was copied; a color chart made by Fox Talbot; and a book of pressed botanical specimens that his mother collected, identified and dated - memorabilia borrowed from Lacock Abbey.

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A draft guide has been published to the photographers and collections of photographs held by the National Monuments Record at English Heritage. The guide has been compiled by Ian Leith and is intended to help users with the new EH Archives website: see

A copy of the guide can be Archilist 2010.03.24 FINAL 01.doc.

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Well, that's according to collector, Arjan de Nooy, a chemist, whose scientific background led him to pursue a research-based method, focusing on the lives and oeuvres of largely unknown photographers.

His new exhibition entitled "The Collector: Beyond The Amateur - A collector's perspective on the history of photography (see 'Events' for info), begins with work by 18th-century scientist Adriaan Paauw, who De Nooy classes as “the inventor of photography.” Around 1790, this obscure assistant of botanist Sebald Brugmans developed a photographic procedure in which he was able to “copy” objects in the form of photograms ..........

Photo: Adriaan Paauw - collection Arjan de Nooy
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And/Or Book Awards 2010

The two shortlists are announced for the 2010 And/or Book Awards, the UK’s leading prizes for books published in the fields of photography and the moving image. A winner from each category will share a prize fund of £10,000. They will be announced during an awards ceremony at the BFI Southbank, London, on Thursday 29 April.

The shortlisted titles for the Best Photography Book are:

  • Oil by Edward Burtynsky (Steidl)
  • Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans by Robert Frank, edited by Sarah Greenough (Steidl)
  • Paul Graham by Paul Graham (Steidl)
  • Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and ’70s by Ryūichi Kaneko and Ivan Vartanian (Aperture Foundation)

The shortlisted titles for the Best Moving Image Book are:

  • The Tactile Eye by Jennifer M. Barker (University of California Press)
  • Being Hal Ashby: The Life of a Hollywood Rebel by Nick Dawson (The University Press of Kentucky)
  • Eisenstein on the Audiovisual by Robert Robertson (I. B. Tauris)
  • The New Yorker Theater by Toby Talbot (Columbia University Press)
  • Michael Haneke’s Cinema by Catherine Wheatley (Berghahn Books)

Over 150 titles were submitted across the two categories for the awards, which have been narrowed down to a final nine books by the two judging panels chaired by Philippe Garner (Photography) and Francine Stock (Moving Image). The judges were looking for clearly written, well illustrated works, which make a significant contribution to the understanding of photography and/or the moving image.

The photography shortlist includes: an essay by Canadian photographer Edward Burtynsky, chronicling the infrastructure of the oil industry and the implications of our dependence on the fuel; an expanded re-issue of legendary photographer Robert Frank’s seminal work The Americans; a retrospective of Paul Graham, the pioneering UK photographer and winner of the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2009; a survey of the Japanese photographic print culture of the 60s and 70s, which has since had a profound influence on photographic publishing worldwide.

Philippe Garner comments:

The field was strong and the excellent shortlist reflects a wide range of approaches. They include: single-minded and engaging investigations of sometimes very narrow topics, made riveting by the passion of the authors; excellent monographs on or by photographers from all areas of photographic practice; and a number of quirky, category-defying projects.

The moving image shortlist includes: Jennifer M. Barker’s theory that the connection between film and viewer goes beyond the visual and aural, to become something visceral; a portrait of the life of the underappreciated rebel 1970s Hollywood Director, Hal Ashby; Robert Robertson’s revealing exploration of Eisenstein’s ideas about the audiovisual in cinema; memoirs by Toby Talbot, co-owner of Manhattan’s influential home of art-house film, the New Yorker Theatre; the first English language analysis of the films of Austrian Director, Michael Haneke, by UK film critic Catherine Wheatley.

Francine Stock comments:

The books that impressed us above all were the ones that inspired a deeper love of film. The shortlisted authors each combined passion and original research in a format that suited their subject. Whether it was intimate memoir, biography, history, critique or a call for a radical new understanding of the way we experience cinema, these books were both focussed and involving.

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Started in the 1880s, Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has the oldest collection of photography in an American museum, and includes many unique photography collections and related cameras. It includes early examples of color photography made in the 1850s by Reverend Levi L. Hill, a daguerreotype photographer in the remote hamlet of West Kill, New York, in the heart of the Catskill Mountains. The museum has the only set of Reverend Hill’s 62 early color experiments, originally donated in 1933 by Hill’s son-in-law.

Read about this 160-year old photographic mystery and Hill's claim that he invented colour photography back in 1851 in this April's issue of the Smithsonian found here:

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For those who might not have a chance to view this exhibition at the Merseyside Maritime Museum (see Events) before 6th June, a book has been published to accompany it. It can either be obtained from the Museum Shop (sold out as of today, but with more copies to follow) or from Amazon (168 pages, 310 x 310 mm, hardback with 157 black and white photographs; ISBN 978 616 7339 00 9).

An article on John Thomson was recently covered by the national press too:

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New Web Site

In the hope that this does not appear to be merely a self-serving announcement, we are posting the launch of our new web-site in the belief that it contains information that may be useful to list members:

• A newly proposed method worked out by Ken Jacobson & paper conservator, Jane McAusland, to describe the condition of photographic prints on the internet or for museum archivists.

• Collectors’ Resources. This section provides a wide bibliography arranged by subject, a glossary of 19th century photographic processes, advice on collecting photographs and links to useful photography sites.

• Information on books we have written

Also, for those interested:

• News of our latest project

• A range of photographic stock is presented for the first time on the web site in a series of ‘Galleries’.

I apologise if people have already received this message by direct posting. We hope people will find the site useful and enjoyable.



Ken Jacobson

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A selection of photographs from the collection of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, taken between 1848 and 1860, will be on display from Friday 19 March at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, London. Works by Roger Fenton, J.J.E. Mayall, Richard Beard, T. Brunell, Leonida Caldesi, Oscar Mallitte, Comte de Montizon and Gustave Le Gray are included.

The exhibition, which also includes oil paintings, watercolours, decorative arts, jewels and textiles, examines the art collected, acquired and/or commissioned by Victoria and Albert during their marriage which was cut short by Prince Albert's sudden death in December 1861.

The exhibition is open until 31 October 2010.

To go straight to the photographs:

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Helmut Gernsheim (1913-1995) was one of the most influential figures in the history of photography. He was one of a handful of people whose original research, collecting and writing took the field seriously and changed the way it was regarded. His scholarly and encyclopaedic book, The History of Photography (1955), co-written with his wife Alison, became the authoritative source on the subject. Over the years, Gernsheim managed to assemble a peerless collection of works by leading British, French and German early photographers. These included important British images by Fox Talbot, including a copy of his work The Pencil of Nature, Hill and Adamson, Fenton, Cameron, Le Gray and Daguerre, all of which have since come to be regarded as masterpieces of the 19th century. One of his most sensational discoveries and acquisitions was of the earliest known photographic image, taken by Niepce in 1826.

This exciting and new exhibition at the Harry Ransom Centre, University of Texas scheduled for this coming fall/winter is made up of two complementary and interweaving narratives—the history of photography as told through the collection's imagery, and the history of the collection's formation and methodology. The Gernsheims Collection will be on display alongside works by unknown or lesser-known artists who used various means to improve or to exploit the relatively new invention of photography. The exhibition will highlight key moments in the history of photography, important technological and ideological shifts in the act of picture making, and narratives that served the Gernsheims as key points of collecting.

Further information will be provided in the 'Events' section of this blog as it becomes available. For those who can't quite make it to Texas, there is a fascinating on-line site ( to view one of the Centre's most prominent permanent exhibiton i.e., the first photograph (View from the Window at Le Gras) by Frenchman Joseph Nicéphore Niépce - a great background read to the forthcoming NMeM's conference in October, as reported exclusively by the BPH blog creator.

Photo: The First Photograph (View from the Window at Le Gras. ca1826, heliograph, in original frame, 25.8 x 29.0 cm) housed in its original presentational frame and sealed within an atmosphere of inert gas in an airtight steel and plexiglas storage frame, must be viewed under controlled lighting in order for its image to be visible.

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NMeM: London presence - more details

More details of the requirements the Natuonal Media Museum require for its London presence have emerged which start to add shape to the project...

The National Media Museum is seeking an architectural and engineering team to undertake the design and onstruction of its London Galleries Project that consists of a suite of facilities created for a range of cultural programming, which will open in September 2012. The National Media Museum’s team of curators, programmers, and educators are preparing the programme for the London Galleries Project, which will focus on the contemporary issues and histories of the museum’s collecting areas of photography, film, television, radio and the Web. There are three equally important themes within this programme:

  • Temporary exhibitions that centre on pivotal moments and themes within the histories of photography and film
  • A programme of screenings, courses, discussions, performances, and recording sessions that map the creative potency of the media we encompass
  • A focus upon the production and dissemination of printed media manifested through an open shelf library, the creation of publications, and debates about the future of publishing.

The founding principles of the London Galleries project revolve around providing the spaces and the levels of welcome for visitors to step over the traditional dividing line between the ‘institution’ and the ‘public’ and, instead, create a space within which our collective points of view, practices and experiences are synergised into the programme of debates, screenings, book launches, courses, conversations, exhibitions and the very life of this media-oriented space.

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The National Media Museum, Bradford, and Getty Conservation Institute, have announced a major international conference on recent advancements in scientific, art historical, and conservation research relating to the photographs which Joseph Nicéphore Niépce brought to England in 1827. The conference will take place in Bradford from 13-14 October 2010 and additionally will provide a unique opportunity to examine three Niépce plates out of their frames.

This two-day conference will present the results of new, unpublished research and scientific investigations, which have been undertaken during the NMeM and GCI Collaborative Research Project. In the Royal Photographic Society Collection at the National Media Museum are three plates by Niépce and the conference will address the research and conservation of these photographic treasures, and will discuss future conservation measures that would provide for their long-term protection and preservation. The reason why Niépce brought these plates to England, and their subsequent history, will also be outlined more fully than previously published.

A copy of the announcement brochure is available here: Niépce First Announcement.pdf

Aims and objectives

The conference will examine:

• Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and his work

• The first six photographs brought to England by Niépce in context

• Scientific investigation into the three Niépce photographs in the NMeM collection

• Dating and conservation of the original frames

• Conservation and preservation issues related to the Niépce plates

The speakers have yet to be formally announced.


Attendance to the conference is limited. All registrations will be handled on a first-come, first served basis.

Formal registration for the Niépce in England conference will take place in May 2010. To register initial interest, contact the NmeM at The museum will hold your details on file and email you registration information in May 2010.

The cost is:

• Regular registration (does not include dinner) £90

• Student registration at reduced rate £70

• Wednesday evening dinner £22


For more information, contact the museum via email at and it museum will respond to your query accordingly. If you would like to make contact by post, please send correspondence to:

Niépce Conference

c/o Cultural Events Organiser

National Media Museum

Pictureville, Bradford

West Yorkshire BD1 1NQ United Kingdom

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For those BPH-bloggers interested in the technological developments in photographic processes from the origins of the medium until the advent of digital photography, there is an interesting book just published in Jan 2010. Written by Sarah Kennel with Diane Waggoner and Alice Carver-Kubik, the book is a compilation of essential information about the predominant negative, positive, and photomechanical processes in use since 1839.

It offers concise technical descriptions of the processes and their common uses, and is illustrated with museum-quality illustrations (some at high magnification to show print characteristics) and diagrams indicating the basic structure of each negative or print process.

The guidebook is organized alphabetically for convenient reference and includes a time line with the major dates of use for each process over the past 170 years, an extensive glossary, and an index of variant names. The 104-page softcover book features 57 color illustrations and 27 diagrams, and is available through (ISBN-10: 0500288704).

More importantly, an exhibition (of the same name) to complement this book is currently being held at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC until 14th March 2010 - you still have time to fly there ! Refer to the 'Events' section for a very interesting overview of the exhibition and an independent review.
Click for a podcast interview with curator Sarah Kennel.
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For those of you who still haven't had a chance to visit the amazing British Library Points of View exhibition, you better to do as it ends this Sunday (7th March) !

However, if you happen to be in the Netherlands, near the Hague, anytime from now until 23rd April, you can catch a Dutch 'version' which they have called 'Photography' which covers the development of photography, from pioneer to the Dutch New Photography movement.

The first image produced using the camera obscura principle (1545), the original camera belonging to painter George Hendrik Breitner, daguerreotypes over 150 years old: the University of Leiden’s photographic collection is unique in many ways. It is both the oldest and the largest museum photography collection in the country, telling the whole story of the emergence and development of photography. It also includes work by contemporary photographers, and ‘classic’ works by photographers like Alfred Stieglitz and Diane Arbus. The largest ever exhibition of pieces from this unique collection can be seen at The Hague Museum of Photography until 23rd April.

The University of Leiden’s photography collection represents the history, development and different forms of the medium. It includes examples of virtually all photographic techniques, rare objects and artistic high points: the early experiments of photographic pioneers like William Fox Talbot, for example, and the collages of Paul Citroen. Artistic ambition is illustrated by pieces from Piet Zwart and Paul Schuitema’s Dutch New Photography movement, and photographers like Emmy Andriesse and Cas Oorthuys represent the engagement of documentary photographers. The collection focuses on Dutch photography in an international context, and so includes work by great photographers like Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Curtis and Richard Avedon.

The exhibition will feature a special selection from the collection, chosen for its visual quality. See 'Events' for venue info etc.

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NMeM job: Exhibitions Organiser

The National Media Museum has six floors of free galleries, including two temporary spaces. You’ll help us fill them with inspiring exhibitions by leading project teams, liaising with stakeholders and managing budgets of up to £50,000. You will plan and oversee installations, and complete all relevant admin duties, from contracts and insurance to transportation, ensuring all exhibitions are delivered on time and to the highest standard.

Coming from a similar role in a museum or gallery, you’ll already have a good understanding of exhibition administration and delivery procedures, as well as sound knowledge of display techniques, including video and new media display technologies. You should have experience of managing projects, coordinating internal and external stakeholders and developing interpretation strategies too. If you can combine this with good communication, organisational and IT skills, you’ll help us show some wonderful work to visitors!

Award winning, visionary and truly unique, the National Media Museum embraces photography, film, television, radio and the web. Part of the NMSI family of museums, we aim to engage, inspire and educate through comprehensive collections, innovative education programmes and a powerful yet sensitive approach to contemporary issues.


  • Hours: Full Time
  • Salary: £21,900

Contract Type: fixed term until 31st March 2011

Closing date: 21 March 2010

More details here:

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George Shadbolt honoured

The life and work of a pioneering the nineteenth-century photographer and journal editor was commemorated at the end of February with a blue heritage plaque. George Shadbolt (1819-1901) is thought to be one of the first people to take a photograph through a microscope and recorded some of the earliest pictures of the Crouch End area, around his old home Cecile House, in
Crouch Hill. His home has since been turned into Kestrel House School which provides education for young people with autism.

Rosemary Wilman, of the Royal Photographic Society, and Keith Fawkes, of the Hornsey Historical Society, unveiled a blue plaque at the building and paid tribute to his contribution to the art. Mr Fawkes told the Haringey Independent: “He was a pioneer – a very important person to publicise locally. All these local people are very important. Crouch End was an interesting area then and these people become more important as the years go by. He was one of the pioneers of photography in Victorian times and he was extremely innovative.”

Around 150 years before digital photography revolutionised the process of taking pictures, Shadbolt pioneered early techniques, including methods of enlarging images. He was an early exponent of combination printing, the practice of combining two separate negatives to create a single image.

During an influential career he spent seven years editing what would later become the British Journal of Photography and was an early member of the Photographic Society of London.

The plaque is one of eight installed in honour of influential local figures as part a community scheme led by John Hajdu, of the Muswell Hill and Fortis Green

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12200893089?profile=originalCulture Minister, Margaret Hodge, has placed a temporary export bar on a rare photograph by the pioneering nineteenth-century British photographer Roger Fenton. This will provide a last chance to raise the money to keep the photograph, titled Pasha and Bayadère, in this country.

The Minister’s ruling follows a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA). The Committee recommended that the export decision be deferred on the grounds that the photograph is of outstanding aesthetic importance and of outstanding significance for the study of the history of photography.

Roger Fenton (1819-69) was a highly-regarded British photographer and one of the first- ever war photographers.

Best known for his images of the Crimean War, he also produced landscapes, portraits, still-lives and tableaux vivants during a career which only lasted just over a decade. Pasha and Bayadère was created in 1858 as part of a series of about fifty Orientalist photographs inspired by Fenton’s expedition to the Crimea. These were an expression of a general craze for all things oriental that can be seen in European art in the second half of the nineteenth century and reflected the Victorian fascination with the ‘exotic’ Middle East. In the photo, staged in his London studio, Fenton himself appears as the ‘Pasha’ (a Turkish military or civil official), watching a bayadère, or dancing girl, perform. The role of the musician is played by the English landscape painter Frank Dillon.

The photograph is one of only two examples of this image, the other being in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The Getty’s version is uncropped and believed to be a proof, making this version, cropped for exhibition, in a sense unique. It was not intended to be a documentary image of daily life in Turkey or Egypt, but a fantasy about what the Orient stood for. Fenton’s aim was to marry the Orientalist subject matter popular in painting of the period with the new medium of photography to create a work of high art. Regarded as one of the best in his Orientalist series, and one of Fenton’s best works overall, Pasha and Bayadère is technically highly accomplished, with a strong composition and beautiful lighting.

Lord Inglewood, Chairman of the Reviewing Committee, said: “Photography is sometimes undervalued in this country, but Pasha and Bayadère demonstrates how the best photographs can hold their own aesthetically against other art forms. As well as being a remarkable image, the work is also important for the study of the history of photography. The fact that the Getty Museum chose to make their own version of this image the subject of a scholarly monograph shows just how highly Fenton’s work is regarded outside the UK.”

The decision on the export licence application for the photograph will be deferred for a period ending on 1 May 2010 inclusive. This period may be extended until 1 August 2010 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds with a view to making an offer to purchase the photograph at the recommended price of £108,506 is expressed.

Anyone interested in making an offer to purchase the photograph should contact the owner’s agent through:

The Secretary
The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest
Museums, Libraries and Archives Council
Wellcome Wolfson Building
165 Queen’s Gate
South Kensington
Telephone 020 7273 8270

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