The Harris' photography collections include an historic photograph collection of portrait photographs and images of Preston and the surrounding area dating from 1850, a set of Roger Fenton’s Crimean War photographs, and our nationally renowned collection of contemporary art photography.
This collection consists of at least 20,000 items and includes black and white photographic prints, photograph albums and glass negatives (5,000) dating from 1840s. It includes views of Preston and the surrounding area from 1850 documenting the changing architecture and buildings in the town, photographs relating to specific trades and industries such as the cotton industry and Preston Dock and events held in the town including the Preston Guild (from 1862).
It also contains a large collection of portrait photographs of local people in both carte de visite and cabinet format.
Notable photographic collections include a collection of portraits by British and European photographers collected by the Preston photographer James Monk and his family and bequeathed to the museum in 1939, and a collection of photographs by Preston photographers collected by Dr Taylor. These collections have been added to by additional donations and purchases.
The collection now features important work by 19th and 20th century professional and amateur photographers such as Charles Wilson, Thomas Ogle, Robert Pateson, George Devey, Arthur Winter, Beattie, Monk, Douglas Cochrane, Jack Wilson and Wareing.
The Harris Museum and Art Gallery is very fortunate in holding a collection of 91 salted paper prints of the Crimean War by Roger Fenton that were produced as part of a series published by Askews of Manchester, in 1855. The prints are mostly from the camp life series showing portraits of officers and soldiers.
Photography, film and video are being used increasingly in contemporary art practice. The Harris Museum & Art Gallery has been acquiring work over the past twenty years largely through participation in the Contemporary Art Society’s Special Collection Scheme, and includes major works by Keith Arnatt, Helen Chadwick, Calum Colvin, Ron O’Donnell and Boyd Webb, amongst others. In 2000, Lucy Gunning’s 1993 video, Climbing Round My Room, became the first video installation to be acquired for the collection.