A Museum within a Museum: The Kodak Collection at National Science and Media Museum

Lead Research Organisation: University of Brighton
Department Name: Sch of Humanities


This project will showcase the NSMM Kodak collection in its entirety as a collection that is vital to the history of photography highlighting its significance as a former industry leader and re-evaluate its unique existence. Linking the historical with the contemporary I will examine the collections relevance to photographic practice today, a time of sharp contrast to the technologies and understanding of photography of the twentieth century but with the shared practice of mass participation popular photography. Taking the three key research questions outlined in the PhD proposal as a starting point I will firstly examine the collection itself, understanding what it encompasses and to what extent the collection and the Kodak business model has contributed to the photographic theory of popular photography. I will address whether existing theory accurately represents the sheer volume and importance of Kodak's output before and after its dramatic decline as an industry leader. Secondly I will examine how curatorial decisions have shaped the museum visitors experience, do visitors understand the importance of the Kodak brand to social, cultural, commercial and technological history. Can the success of this be measured with a collection as unique as this and has the story told in the gallery connected to contemporary popular photography particularly given the resurgence in popular analogue photography and Kodak branded products. Lastly as a museum within a museum I will examine how important the collection is to NSMM and how it fits into the museum strategy. I will determine whether new research can strengthen collection in the future, guiding it through the challenges of remaining relevant within the museum sector and to academics. I will explore potential avenues of reconnecting with the public such as whether the digital age that was responsible for the decline in Kodak's business be of assistance to its survival in the future within the museum sector. Bringing together different strands of research including existing theory as well as interviews and visitor surveys I will gauge perceptions of the collections value and ability to communicate its history. In addressing the meaningful value of this collection I will use "Photographs Objects Histories: On the Materiality of Images" and "Photographs, Museums, Collections: Between Art and Information" in addition to the primary and secondary texts outlined in the proposal. I will also look to other collections that share some similarities including the George Eastman House, ascertaining their own
expectations and successes in communicating their significance. I will build relationships with other academics in the field building strong dialogues and using objects from the collection to illustrate my research I will weave together objects and theoretical material to present the reappraisal of the Kodak collection at the NSMM.


10 25 50