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Science and Media Museum

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Take a journey through the history of photography. Step into a 19th century portrait studio, see hundreds of incredible objects from our collections, and watch the world’s first moving colour film. 

From the very first photographs to digital snaps, take a journey through the history of photography in the Kodak Gallery.

The invention of photography and the first portraits

See how experiments with chemistry and light created the first permanent images. Examine the work of pioneers like Niépce, Talbot and Daguerre, and view some of our most important objects, from the ancient camera obscura to photographic portraits of the 1840s.

Daylight studio and Victorian drawing room

History comes alive in our replica of a portrait photographer’s studio—exactly as it would have been in 1865. See how portraits were created with the help of natural light. Then, step into a Victorian drawing room and inspect the popular carte de visite portraits of the era.

The birth of popular photography

With the introduction of the Kodak camera in 1888 and the Brownie in 1900, photography went from professional occupation to popular pastime. View cameras from the 1880s onwards, and learn about the enthusiastic amateurs who formed clubs and participated in international competitions.

The post-war years

The second half of the 20th century saw a boom in photography, with the emergence of innovations such as the Instamatic, the Polaroid and the 35mm SLR, followed by the rise of colour photography in the 1960s. Take a look at popular cameras from the post-war period right through to the digital revolution.

The world's first colour moving pictures

The Kodak Gallery is home to one of our most amazing discoveries: the earliest moving colour film.

Using the method patented by Edward Turner and Frederick Marshall Lee in 1899, we were able to reveal the full-colour moving images on test films created between 1901 and 1903, making them viewable for the first time in 110 years.

Read more about the Lee and Turner restoration on our blog

On display

Acknowledgments

Many of the items on display in this gallery are taken from our collection of 35,000 objects and images donated by Kodak Ltd.

Lee and Turner project

Funded by the Screen Heritage UK Programme.

Special thanks to Yorkshire Film Archive and Screen Yorkshire.

Supported by Brian Pritchard, David Cleveland, Roger Mortimer, Madeline Weller and Prime Focus.

Sponsored by

Kodak

Learning in the Kodak Gallery

The Kodak Gallery tells the story of photography, from the earliest cameras to the digital photographs of today. It illustrates changes in society since the Victorian era, as well as the development of photographic technology.

The gallery is a good introduction to Victorian life: there are lots of Victorian cameras and photographs, as well as a large selection of cameras from the 20th century.

Students can learn about the birth of photography and the development of the camera; understand the problems of early portrait photography and experience being a model in the Daylight Studio; explore how photography grew from a pastime of the rich to being available to all; and appreciate the growing impact of the camera on our lives.