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Photography at RAMM: new discoveries, new directions

By September 5, 2019January 26th, 2021Education, Member News & Updates, Why Exeter blog

A first-ever, comprehensive review of the photographs in RAMM’s collections has revealed their importance and inspired guidelines for future collecting. A selection of photographs that have remained unseen for decades will be included a forthcoming display and feature in a one-day event bringing together researchers, curators, historians, academics and leading SW-based photographic artists whose work is now entering museum collections.

Photography at RAMM

Photographs can be found throughout RAMM’s many different collections. There are portrait photographs in the costume and textile collection, images of ‘tree specimens’ and curious microphotographs in the natural history collection and fascinating colonial photography in the World Cultures collection.

The full range of photography was revealed during a collections review supported by the Art Fund. Photography specialist Marie-Kathrin Blanck started researching the collections in April: ‘I started my review with the photographs in the fine art collection. There were only about 100 in this collection. I soon realised that there was much more to uncover and other collections to look into.’

Highlights include an early colour photograph by Exeter-based photographer Frederick Gordon Tutton, a photographic album of Mysore given to the Royal family and images of the Botanic Gardens after the Calcutta cyclone from 1864. Some of these photographs will be on display for the first time in the Viewpoint windows from 3 September to early 2020.

A new collections policy

Based on the findings from this review, RAMM is looking into reworking its current policy. ‘Besides undertaking this major review of the photographs in the collections, I have been making suggestions for a policy for the future collecting of photography at RAMM’ says Blanck. This new policy will come into effect in 2020.

A one-day symposium at RAMM

A one-day symposium on Collecting regions – photography and a sense of place on Wednesday 18 September will mark the end of this Art Fund project. The event is open to all and will invite conversations on photography and photographic collections in the South West. One part of the symposium will specifically focus on Dartmoor as a place of inspiration for artists. Speakers include camera-less photographer Garry Fabian Miller, Exeter-based photographer Brendan Barry and Liz Wells, curator, writer and Professor in Photographic Culture at Plymouth University.

How to book

More information on the symposium and how to book a ticket can be found here.