Henry Cole promised as he founded the V&A that it should be a ‘schoolroom for everyone’ and that its mission should be to educate and inspire designers, manufacturers and consumers in art and science. Cole’s mission has been fulfilled many times over as it now stands as one of the leading museums in London in terms of the collection that it has acquired, the accessibility that it provides to the public, and both the quality and quantity of its many exhibitions it curates each year. 


The V&A’s collection of works pours over 12.5 acres and holds pieces dating back to its oldest acquired piece, a Shang Dynasty ceremonial blade which experts date to between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. The oldest photograph in the possession of the V&A is a daguerreotype of Parliament Street taken in 1839. The daguerreotype was the first photographic process, first made public by its inventor Louis Daguerre, and mere weeks after the he published the method to this photographing technique in August of 1839, Monsieur de St. Croix organised the first public demonstration of this in London. This photo is taken in this demonstration and is therefore one of the first scenes photographed in London. The V&A has only expanded its collection since then and has recently put together an exhibition; ‘Known and Strange: Photographs from the collection’. 


This collection showcases over 50 recently acquired photographs by 8 different artists which are new additions to the V&A’s permanent collection. There is no particular theme to the collection, rather it is a celebration of how these artists have ‘expanded the ever-changing field of photography’. According to the V&A, these works ‘represent some of the most compelling achievements in contemporary photography’ and the photographs and artists in it range from photographs illustrating an intertwinement of the relationship between technology and natural world, to photographs commenting on the violence and discrimination of the South-African, black members of the LGBTQIA+ community. All in all, this collection of photographs is a reflection on both the talented work of these 8 up and coming artists, and the expertise and diversity(the V&A combines exhibiting ancient roman busts to modern works of unusual photography) of the V&A in curating this collection. 


This exhibition is on show in the V&A currently, in room 101, from now till 6th november 2022.