V&A creates director of photography role, appoints Duncan Forbes

Article: David Styles | Image: V&A Photography Centre - Render of Gallery 99 © David Kohn Architects

The Victoria & Albert Museum has announced the creation of a new director of photography position, with specialist curator and scholar Duncan Forbes set to take on the role in April.

As the inaugural individual taking on the directorial role, Duncan Forbes will lead the V&A’s team of photography curators into a new chapter of programming that is rooted firmly in the museum’s collection of over 800,000 photographs.

This work will unfold concurrently with a major endeavour to catalogue and digitise the institution’s photography collections.

Duncan Forbes, Director of Photography, V&A

“The challenge of bringing new histories to light in collaboration with partners around the world is a compelling one,” he said, discussing his new role at the V&A. “The addition of the Royal Photographic Society collection in 2017 has lent further weight to what is already one of the world’s great photography collections.”

Forbes has served as director of Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland and as senior curator of photography at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh. He also has substantial experience researching, exhibiting and publishing in relation to the medium. Most recently Forbes has been exploring and extending the archival holdings of photography at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles.

Forbes will oversee Phase Two of development at the V&A Photography Centre, opening in 2022. The second phase of the project will add a further four rooms, interactive features and a reading room dedicated to photographic books.

Following the appointment, V&A director Tristram Hunt stated: “Photography is one of our most powerful forms of global communication, and a medium that we have been collecting and interpreting since our founding in 1852.

“With Duncan at the helm, we’ll drive forward our support of emerging and established practitioners and develop our contemporary collecting programme through the generosity of the V&A Photographs Acquisitions Group.”