Protest letter over NMM collection switch

More than eighty prominent arts figures have written a letter of protest to the Guardian over the controversial decision to move part of the collection of Bradford’s National Media Museum (NMM) to London.

The signatories include artist David Hockney, film director Mike Leigh and photographer Don McCullin who say the transfer of more than 400,000 objects from the Bradford museum to the Victoria and Albert Museum is a backward step.

They have condemned the “sudden and largely secret” decision by the trustees of the museum to relinquish part of the photography collection.

They add that the Bradford Museum, originally the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television attracted eight million visitors in its first decade. At the time, this was more than any other museum outside London, and more than all but the big five in London.

Other signatories include Colin Ford, the first director of the museum, Sue Grayson Ford, founder of the Serpentine Gallery and former director of the Photographers’ Gallery, Simon Wallis, director of the Hepworth gallery in Wakefield; and Kathleen Soriano, former director of exhibitions at the Royal Academy.

Photographers Paul Graham, Martin Parr and Eamonn McCabe  also signed the letter.

The letter says many of those who had been involved in the founding and development of the museum would welcome the opportunity to try to solve “whatever problems are being encountered in retaining the collection in a national home for photography – preferably in the north of England”.

Leaked minutes show that the decision to transfer the collection to the V&A was discussed by NMM’s parent Science Museum Group’s trustees – none of whom have links to Bradford – nearly a year ago.

The museum has also axed the Bradford international film festival, after 20 years. Bradford was designated Unesco’s first City of Film in the summer of 2009.

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