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Largest ever grant for photography supports historic partnership

Largest ever grant for photography supports historic partnership - The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded 3,750,000 to secure the future of the Royal Photographic Society's Collection.

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The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded 3,750,000 to secure the future of the Royal Photographic Society's Collection and its move to the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television in Bradford as part of a partnership agreement between the two institutions.

This is the largest HLF award ever made for photography and firmly establishes the medium as a vital part of national heritage. It follows an earlier major grant of 342,000 from the independent art charity, the National Art Collections Fund (Art Fund), towards the acquisition, and significant funds from Yorkshire Forward.

The Royal Photographic Society is widely acknowledged as holding one of the most important photographic collections in the world, representing some of the most significant photographic achievements of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Collection represents seminal moments in the history of photography that range from the heliographic plates by Nipce from 1826, and the earliest surviving photographic portrait on paper by Talbot taken in 1840, to major contributions to the art of photography through the work of Fenton, Rejlander, Cameron, Emerson and Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll). Most significantly, the Collection has an outstanding body of material regarding the evolution of Pictorialism in Europe and America around 1900. Fine examples of the work of Stieglitz, Steichen, Coburn, Demachy and Kuhn amongst others reflect this important shift in the cultural status of photography. The RPS Collection is complemented by a wide range of documents including manuscripts, correspondence, ephemera and publications relating to the wider history of photography from its beginnings to date.

The public will be able to see the RPS Collection by visiting Insight: Collections & Research Centre, situated at the very heart of the Museum. Insight is already home to over 3 million unique and significant items, including the world's earliest surviving negative and extensive holdings from the birth of photography. With the RPS Collection in Bradford, the NMPFT will be home to the world's most important photographic collection.

Plans are underway to move the RPS Collection to Bradford later this year; and the first of a rolling programme of exhibitions drawn from the Collection is scheduled for January 2003. The NMPFT is confident that the HLF and Art Fund grants will help bring in the remaining 800,000 that is being sought for education, outreach and exhibition programmes.

Amanda Nevill, Hon FRPS, Head of NMPFT, says: "This is a wonderful moment for photography worldwide - the combined collections of the NMPFT and the RPS create a resource of unparalleled importance. We are absolutely delighted that the HLF has given such generous support, along with the Art Fund and Yorkshire Forward, to safeguard our photographic heritage."

Lord Puttnam, Hon FRPS says: "I am more than delighted by this news, which will hopefully ensure that the target can now be reached. It can only be beneficial that two unique centres of excellence can work together and this historic concordat must reinforce the message of the importance of photography and Britain as its birthplace."

John Page, RPS President, says: "It is an honour to be President of the RPS at such a pivotal moment in the history of the Society. We are delighted that the Collection is going to the Museum where, for the first time, it will be readily available to all. We look forward to an exciting future working closely with the NMPFT in promoting photography. This is a great start to our 150th anniversary next year."

Liz Forgan, Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, says: "The Heritage Lottery Fund is proud to be supporting the acquisition of this fantastic photography collection. The fusion of the RPS's and the NMPFT's material will mean that this collection will now be one of the most significant and comprehensive records of photography in the world. Photos are an incredibly important part of all our lives - they can convey an eloquent message instantly - and, whether professional or amateur, they capture moments in our lives for posterity. The HLF was particularly keen to support this project as it will ensure that this ensemble of images and objects will be accessible to many more people both in person and electronically."

David Barrie, Director of the Art Fund, says: "This is a unique and historic acquisition, a national treasure in terms of the importance of the Royal Photographic Society, its groundbreaking work and the range of photographic techniques encompassed by its marvellous collection. The Art Fund is delighted to help permanently secure the future of this vital part of our heritage."

Graham Hall, Chairman of Yorkshire Forward says: "Yorkshire Forward is delighted to support the acquisition of this internationally significant archive. Our region has great strengths in cultural and creative media, and the RPS acquisition offers real potential to expand and enhance business innovation in the digital technology field. To see the collection come to one of the region's great cultural assets, the NPMFT, gives an extra real boost to our position as Britain's Biggest Break."

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