National Media Museum: Wikis


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National Media Museum
Established 1983
Location Bradford, West Yorkshire, England
Visitor figures 715,746 (2007)[1]
Director Colin Philpott
National Museum of Science and Industry
National Media Museum · National Railway Museum (Shildon Locomotion Museum· Science Museum (Dana Centre, Science Museum Swindon)

Coordinates: 53°47′26″N 1°45′20″W / 53.790556°N 1.755556°W / 53.790556; -1.755556

The National Media Museum (formerly the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television) is a museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England. Part of the National Museum of Science and Industry, it is the most popular museum in the United Kingdom outside London, with 615,431 visiting in 2005.

The first head of the museum was Colin Ford who was succeeded by Amanda Nevill. The current head is Colin Philpott, a former BBC journalist.



The National Media Museum, Bradford

The museum is on the site of a former theatre and art gallery in the centre of Bradford and came about as the result of discussions between Dame Margaret Weston and Bradford city. The National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, opened to visitors on the 16 June 1983. The museum launched Britain’s largest cinema screen, IMAX, five storeys high with six-channel sound, on the same day. At the time, it specialised in the art and science of images and image-making. Colin Ford believed that understanding how images are made led to appreciation of the ideas expressed and the intentions and skills of image-makers. To mark the 50th anniversary of the first public television service, two interactive television galleries were developed in 1986. These let visitors operate cameras on a studio set with programmed sound and lighting, use vision mixers, to read a news item from an Autocue and discover how Chromakey works. These exhibits survived until the re-naming of the museum in 2006.

In 1989, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of photography, the museum launched the Kodak Gallery, some of the 10,000 items illustrating popular photography from its invention. This was followed by installation of a standard television studio, first used by TV-am (for outside broadcasts) and later Nickelodeon. These studios were the first live broadcasting studios in a museum. Today, the equipment is used to teach students from the School of Informatics at the University of Bradford with whom the museum has a partnership for BSc and BA courses in media and television. The studio is also used for Youth TV, to introduce young people from inner city Bradford to programme-making. In 1994, TV Heaven was launched, making accessible the museum's collection of television programmes, most of which not available elsewhere.

While continuing to run Pictureville Cinema and exhibitions in a mill on the other side of the city, the museum closed its main site on 31 August 1997 to allow for a 19-month, £16 million redevelopment making the museum 25% bigger. The IMAX cinema was also developed to show 3D films. The new museum was opened on 16 June 1999 by Pierce Brosnan, making the museum one of the most popular in the UK.

On 1 December 2006, the museum was renamed the National Media Museum.

Building and admission

Entrance is free with exception of cinema screens and some specialist exhibitions. The museum is open 10am until 6pm Tuesdays-Sundays. The museum closes for special tours on a Monday. The museum underwent a £16 million refurbishment in 1998, developing a new digital technology gallery and now hosts the BBC's Bradford offices, and studios for BBC Radio Leeds and the BBC Bradford and West Yorkshire Website. This new development created a new glass-fronted atrium, which houses a new cafe and shop.

There are seven permanent exhibitions:

  • Kodak Gallery - Covering photography from the 1840s.
  • Experience TV - 200 objects from museum collections, and hands-on displays.
  • TV Heaven - An opportunity to select from 1000 television programmes.
  • Magic Factory - The science behind television.
  • Animation - The history of animation, with a permanent "Animator in Residence" involved in the museum's workshops.
  • Profiles Gallery & IMAX Projector Box - the film collection.
  • Advertising - The history of advertising and its effects on society.

The museum contains:

  • The Pictureville Cinema containing 306 seats
  • The Cubby Broccoli Cinema (in memory of Cubby Broccoli, producer of James Bond films) containing 108 seats
  • The IMAX cinema

The museum is host to courses taught with the University of Bradford's EIMC Department including BSc Media Technology & Production, BSc Creative Media & Technologies, BSc Computer Animation and Special Effects and BA Media Studies. Subjects include broadcast television using the TV studio on its top floor. The EIMC degree show is in the Pictureville Cinema.

Museum collection

The museum's collection contains three million items of historical, cultural and social value, including the first photographic negative, the earliest television footage, the world's first moving pictures (Louis Le Prince's 1888 films of Roundhay Garden Scene and Leeds Bridge). It also contains original toys from the BBC series Playschool – the first programme on BBC2. The collections are accessible to the public through its Insight study centre.

The museum incorporates the first permanent UK installation of an IMAX cinema[2] (with a second screen opening in the UK 15 years later). Opened in 1983 as part of the Bradford Film Festival with the projector visible from a darkened booth of the 4th floor, this screen runs IMAX presentations seven days a week, including IMAX prints of Apollo 13, The Lion King, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Batman Begins. In 1999, IMAX upgraded the system and began releasing IMAX 3D presentations.[3]

The museum also incorporates the Pictureville Cinema - opened in 1992 and described by David Puttnam as 'the best cinema in Britain', Pictureville Cinema screens everything from 70mm to video; from Hollywood to Bollywood; from silents to digital sound, with certifications in presentation including THX in sound and picture and the Dolby EX system. This cinema is one of only three public cinemas in the world permanently equipped to display original 3-strip 35mm Cinerama prints.[4]

The museum hosts Bradford Film Festival in March, Bite the Mango in September and Bradford Animation Festival in November). These attract international speakers and new and classic works from around the world.

The museum's future

Plans for 2007 included:

  • The redevelopment of the animation gallery to include digital animation and gaming.
  • A new gallery for contemporary media issues.
  • A virtual museum gallery on the website about the history of the internet.
  • Staging more events showing trends and developments overs.
  • Updating the television gallery.
  • Strengthening the commitment to photography by inviting experts to be Chair of Photography, supporting up-and-coming photographers through bursaries, and setting up an acquisitions committee.

In addition to these plans, the museum hopes to implement:

  • A film heritage gallery to reflect the development of film, particularly British film.
  • A gallery about radio.
  • Galleries about news gathering and advertising.
  • A plan to remodel the photography gallery to reflect the changes in photography and to put more on display.

The museum has launched a purpose-built photographic gallery and a development strategy. The museum has taken the Royal Photographic Society archives through payment to the RPS of £4.5 million mostly funded through a lottery grant.

In 2007/2008 the museum plans to open a London venue although chances look slim in the absence of a suitable venue and funding. The news was met with disappointment and outrage in Bradford as much of the funding which was originally going to be used for new galleries will now be diverted to London for the new museum.


  1. ^ "Visits Made in 2007 to Visitor Attractions in Membership with ALVA". Association of Leading Visitor Attractions. Retrieved 2008-07-23.  
  2. ^ Museum Future and History (ASP). National Media Museum. Bradford, England. Retrieved on 17 December 2009. "First IMAX Cinema in Britain: 1983 the Museum launched one of its biggest attractions: Britain’s largest cinema screen, IMAX."
  3. ^ Movie heaven right here in Bradford - Telegraph & Argus, 26th June 2009
  4. ^ National Media Museum blog

External links



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