The Archives hold an expansive collection of photographs tracing the history and operation of the Museum since it opened in 1881.
Today visitors to the Museum are welcome to take pictures of exhibits and galleries, but between 1890 and 1930 visitors could only take photographs inside the building on the condition that they sent copies to the Museum. It is largely thanks to this arrangement that our Archives hold a large collection of images documenting the Museum and its visitors during its early years.
The photographs in the Archives include images of the Museum’s building, staff, galleries, exhibitions and field trips. There is even a collection capturing Museum sports and social club events. There are also photographs of the Natural History Museum at Tring and the old Geological Museum.
The collection also features pictures taken by politician and photographer John Benjamin Stone, who was an MP for the former constituency of Birmingham East from 1895 to 1909. Stone’s keen interest in anthropology and science attracted him to the Museum, where he photographed the building, its galleries and staff.
The Picture Library
Some of the Archives’ photographs are available through the online Picture Library. Other images can be digitised or copied on request. Please contact the Museum Archives for information.
All records with reference ‘PH’ in the Museum Archive Catalogue are photographs. You can search for these by typing ‘ph*’ in the 'FindingNo' field.
Focus: Museum history
Authors/Artists: Various, including Benjamin Stone