Mary Evans Picture Library – 55 years supplying the museums and heritage sector

Main Image: Ernest Boulton and Frederick William Park, also known as Stella and Fanny, arrested at the Strand Theatre for incitement to commit an unnatural offence, by goin. Copyright Mary Evans Picture Library

Mary Evans Picture Library was established in 1964 and its core philosophy has remained unchanged for more than 50 years: to make available and accessible all the wonderful images created for people to enjoy over the centuries which were originally published in books, on posters, in advertisements, or as prints

Throughout its history, the Mary Evans Picture Library has been supplying the museum and heritage sector with historical and vintage images over a period of six decades.

Here are five recent projects that illustrate the wide range of images they can provide:

Mary Quant at the V&A, opening April 2019

This exhibition celebrates the work of the most iconic fashion designer of the 1960s. Born and brought up in Blackheath in southeast London (coincidentally the home of Mary Evans Picture Library), Mary Quant launched a fashion revolution on the British high street with her shop Bazaar on the King’s Road, Chelsea. Images from the archive of Tatler showing fashion in the 1950s and Swinging Sixties, part of the Illustrated London News archive housed and managed by Mary Evans, were supplied by us for the accompanying exhibition book.

Behind the Seams at Preston Park Museum, until March 2019

Preston Park Museum in Stockton-on-Tees is exhibiting costumes created by Angels, the world’s longest-established professional costume house, for shows and films such as Poldark, The Crown, Game of Thrones and Shakespeare in Love. We drew on the considerable collections we represent of film stills and posters—the  Ronald Grant Film Archive, the Everett Film Collection and Studio Canal—to come up with images of stars in costume for large display panels, including Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra (1963).

Elizabeth Taylor Characters: Cleopatra Film: Cleopatra (USA/UK/CH 1963) Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz 12 June 1963 Cleopatra. Copyright Mary Evans/AF Archive/Cinetext Bildarchiv

Leavesden Country Park, Hertfordshire

The park is formed on the grounds originally occupied by the Leavesden Asylum and St Pancras Orphanage, both of which were constructed in 1868 and continued in various forms until 1995. Historical images of the asylum and orphanage have been used for new way finder signage and Leavesden’s website, mostly from Peter Higginbotham’s workhouses collection which we represent, and which strengthens our own considerable holdings of images on social history.

Night and Day at the Fashion and Textile Museum, until January 2019

Following the success of the 1920s Jazz Age: Fashion and Photographs exhibition at the Fashion and Textile Museum in Bermondsey in 2017, the museum once again utilised the superlative collection of images of mid-20th fashion at Mary Evans for their Night and Day: 1930s Fashion and Photographs exhibition. We’ve provided key images for both displays: dynamic and colourful illustrations by Gordon Conway for the Jazz Age exhibition, and stunning monochrome photographs and illustrations for Night and Day.

Camp: Notes on Fashion at The Met, opening May 2019

This spring 2019 exhibition will explore the origins of the camp aesthetic, and how it has evolved from a place of marginality to become an important influence on mainstream culture. The accompanying exhibition catalogue features rare Victorian images of cross-dressing from the Mary Evans archive.


For more information visit Mary Evans Picture Library’s profile here.