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National Media Museum

National Media Museum
Established 16 June 1983
Location Bradford, West Yorkshire, England

504,000 (2012)[1]

Science Museum Group

The National Media Museum (formerly the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television) is a museum in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, and is part of the national Science Museum Group. The museum has seven floors of galleries with permanent exhibitions focusing on photography, television, animation, videogaming, the internet and the scientific principles behind light and colour. It also hosts temporary exhibitions and maintains a collection of 3.5 million pieces in its research facility. The venue also has three cinemas operated in partnership with Picturehouse Cinemas, including an IMAX screen and hosts two film festivals each year, including the Bradford International Film Festival. In September 2011 the museum was voted the best indoor attraction in Yorkshire by the public, and it is one of the most visited museums in the north of England.[2][3]


  • History 1
  • Building and admission 2
  • Past exhibitions 3
  • Collection 4
  • Film festivals 5
    • Bradford International Film Festival 5.1
    • Bradford Animation Film Festival 5.2
    • Fantastic Films Weekend 5.3
  • References 6
  • External links 7


The museum is on the site of a what was to be a theatre in the centre of Bradford, where work begun in the 1960s remained unfinished.[4] The museum came about as the result of discussions between Dame Margaret Weston of the Science Museum, London and Bradford city councillors.[4] The National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, as it was then called, opened to visitors on 16 June 1983. The museum launched Britain’s largest cinema screen, IMAX, five storeys high with six-channel sound, on the same day. During this period the museum specialised in the art and science of images and image-making since Colin Ford, its first director, 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 allowed visitors to operate cameras on a studio set with programmed sound and lighting, use vision mixers, read a news item from an autocue and discover how chroma keying works. These exhibits survived 2006, when the museum was renamed.

In 1989, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of photography, the museum launched the Kodak Gallery, a display of the history of photography from its invention. This was followed by the 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. In 1994, the TV Heaven gallery was launched, making accessible the museum's collection of television programmes, most of which are not available elsewhere.

While continuing to run the Pictureville Cinema and exhibitions in a temporary venue 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 percent bigger. The IMAX cinema was also developed to show 3D films. The new museum was opened on 16 June 1999 by Pierce Brosnan.

On 1 December 2006, the museum was renamed the National Media Museum; at the same time opening two new £3 million interactive galleries: Experience TV and TV Heaven, dedicated to the past, present and future of television. The galleries display both scientific exhibits such as John Logie Baird's original apparatus and television ephemera such as Wallace and Gromit and the Play School toys.

In 2009 the Museum partnered other bodies from the Bradford District in a successful bid to become the world's first City of Film.

A major revamp of the foyer was unveiled in February 2010, including a brand new Games Lounge, a new gallery drawing on the National Videogame Archive established in 2008 in partnership with Nottingham Trent University. It was originally intended to be temporary but one in five visitors to the Games Lounge named it as their favourite part of the Museum and as a result a more permanent version of the Lounge' was established in another part of the cinema.

In March 2012 the Museum opened Life Online', the world's first gallery dedicated to exploring the social, technological and cultural impact of the Internet. 'The gallery includes both a permanent exhibition in the foyer and a second changing temporary exhibition on Level 7. The first exhibition to feature is [open source]: Is the internet you know under threat? - an exploration of the open source nature of the Internet and the current threats to net neutrality and the continuation of the open source culture.

In October 2014 the museum entered into a partnership with Picturehouse Cinemas with the national chain taking over the running of the three cinema screens in a bid to boost audience figures and protect the future of cinema on the site. The partnership will be referred to as Picturehouse at the National Media Museum and Picturehouse will introduce offers available across the chain to the museum.[5]

Building and admission

The National Media Museum

Entrance is free with the exception of cinema screens. The museum is open 10 am until 6 pm everyday. 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 – The Kodak Gallery takes you on a journey through the history of popular photography, from the world's first photographs to the digital snapshots of today. Most of the items on display in the gallery are taken from our collection of 35,000 objects and images donated by Kodak Ltd.
  • Life OnlineLife Online is the world's first gallery dedicated to exploring the social, technological and cultural impact of the internet. Trace the history of the internet, uncover how it has changed people's lives and track the latest trends.
  • Experience TV – Who invented television and when did it begin in Britain? What does a vision mixer do? What did television sets look like in the sixties? Why do we have adverts on television and how much are we influenced by what we see? Find the answers to all these questions and explore the exciting world of television in our interactive Experience TV gallery.
  • TV Heaven – The first of its kind in Britain, TV Heaven is a unique viewing facility where you can access an archive of more than 1000 programmes from the last sixty years of British television history. Our TV Heaven collection highlights television's enduring capacity to inform, educate and entertain. TV Heaven closed in 2013 after 20 years and was replaced by the BFI Mediatheque
  • Magic Factory – The Magic Factory uses hands-on exhibits to demonstrate the scientific principles of light and colour, and help develop your understanding of the science behind photography, film and television. There are over 30 activities with accompanying notes should you wish to explore these topics further.
  • Animation – The Animation Gallery explores the history of animation and animated images, with an emphasis on animation produced in Britain. See some of your favourite characters, look back at animation through the ages and discover how animators bring drawings and objects to life.
  • Games Lounge – Play your way through classic games in their original arcade or console formats, learn about the history of videogaming, and discover the story behind a global phenomenon.

Past exhibitions

  • ReVisions: An Alternative History of Photography 1999
  • New Natural History 1999
  • Birth of the Cool: David Bailey 1999-2000
  • FutureWorld 2000
  • A Collector's Choice 2000
  • Specimens and Marvels: The Work of William Henry Fox Talbot 2000
  • NOISEGATE by Granular Synthesis 2000
  • The Art of Star Wars 2000-2001
  • In a Lonely Place 2001
  • Symptomatic: Recent Works by Perry Hoberman 2001
  • Paul Strand: Tir a'Mhurain 2001-2002
  • Bond, James Bond 2002
  • Martin Parr: Photographic Works 1971-2000 2002-2003
  • Unknown Pleasures: Unwrapping the Royal Photographic Society Collection 2003
  • Fabula 2003
  • Julia Margaret Cameron: 19th Century Photographer of Genius 2003
  • GENUS 2003-2004
  • A Matter of Focus: The Art of Photography 1892-1917 2003-2004
  • Luc Delahaye: History and Winterreise 2004
  • Simone Nieweg: Landscapes and Gardens 2004
  • Everything's Gone Green: Photography and the Garden 2004
  • Faking It: Between Art Photography and Advertising 2004
  • A Gentle Madness: The Photographs of Tony-Ray Jones (1941-1972) 2004-2005
  • The Other Side of Football: Hans van der Meer 2005
  • Forget Me Not: Photography and Remembrance 2005
  • Fashination 2005
  • Lifetimes: Portrait Projects by Julian Germain 2005-2006
  • Raghubir Singh: From One World to Another 2005-2006
  • Mark Power: A System of Edges 2006
  • Elliot Erwitt: A Retrospective 2006
  • A Tale of Two Cities 2006
  • Myths and Visions: The Art of Ray Harryhausen 2006
  • The British Landscape: Photographs by John Davies 2006-2007
  • The Old Order and the New: P. H. Emerson and Photography (1885-1895) 2006-2007
  • Paul Seawright: Field Notes 2007
  • An-My Lê: Small Wars 2007
  • The Dawn of Colour: Celebrating the Centenary of the Autochrome 2007
  • Celebrating Indian Cinema 2007
  • Extra! Extra! Tales from the Daily Herald Picture Library 2007
  • Sarah Jones: Bradford Fellowship in Photography 2006-07 2007-2008
  • Henri Cartier Bresson's Scrapbook: Photographs 1932-1946 2007
  • Sunny Snaps 2007
  • Live By the Lens Die By the Lens 2008
  • New Works: Pavilion Commissions 2008 2008-2009
  • Breaking News: Celebrating 140 Years of the Press Association 2008-2009
  • "Here's one we made earlier..." 50 Years of Blue Peter 2008-2009
  • Bradford Babies 2009
  • Baby: Picturing the Ideal Human 2009
  • Don McCullin: In England 2009
  • Animalism 2009
  • Drawings That Move: The Art of Joanna Quinn 2009-2010
  • Neeta Madahar: Bradford Fellowship in Photography 2008-09 2009-2010
  • Robbie Cooper: Immersion 2010
  • Simon Roberts: We English 2010
  • Fay Godwin: Land Revisited 2010-2011
  • From Back Home 2010-2011
  • The Lives of Great Photographers 2011
  • David Spero: Churches 2011
  • Daniel Meadows: Early Photographic Works 2011-2012
  • Outposts: Donovan Wylie 2011-2012
  • In the Blink of an Eye 2012
  • Art of Arrangement: Photography and the Still Life Tradition 2012-2013
  • The Life Online - [open source]: Is the internet you know under threat? 2012-2013
  • Moving Stories: Children's Books from Page to Screen 2013
  • Bollywood Icons -100 Years of Indian Cinema 2013
  • Tom Wood: Photographs 1973 - 2013 2013

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.


The museum's collection contains 3.5 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 collection of the Royal Photographic Society was transferred to the Museum on behalf of the nation in 2003.[6]

The museum incorporates the first permanent UK installation of an IMAX cinema[7] (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.[8] In June 2010 it was announced that the Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation had agreed to deposit the animator's complete collection of some 20,000 pieces with the National Media Museum.[9]

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.[10] In 2008, the cinema presented the only true recorded public screening of Danny Boyle's 2002 film Alien Love Triangle.

Film festivals

The Museum organises and hosts three major film events every year: Bradford International Film Festival, Bradford Animation Festival, and Fantastic Films Weekend. These attract international speakers and new and classic works from around the world.

Bradford International Film Festival

Since its inception in 1995, Bradford International Film Festival has presented new and classic films from around the world. The Festival includes the Shine Awards - highlighting the work of new European directors, and the Widescreen Weekend, which shows film formats including Cinerama and IMAX.

Bradford Animation Film Festival

This animation and video games festival is host to discussions, workshops and special events. The annual BAF Awards honour new animation from around the world.

Past guests include representatives from studios such as Pixar, Aardman, Weta Workshops and Sony Interactive plus animators Ray Harryhausen, Richard Williams, Bob Godfrey, Caroline Leaf, Michael Dudok de Wit and Bill Plympton.

Fantastic Films Weekend

The festival began in 2002 as a weekend event focusing on classic ghost stories and the supernatural. It developed into an annual celebration of horror, fantasy and sci-fi cinema and television. In February 2013 it was announced that the Fantastic Films Weekend would not continue.[11]


  1. ^ "Visits made in 2012 to visitor attractions in membership with Alva". Association of Leading Visitor Attractions. Retrieved 21 May 2010. 
  2. ^ "Bradford museum is voted third best attraction". Bradford Telegraph and Argus. 21 September 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2014. 
  3. ^ "National Media Museum visitor numbers continue to fall". 4 July 2012. Retrieved 30 August 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Bell, John (1983). The Flash, Bang, Wallop Show. New Scientist. p. 961. 
  5. ^ "Cinema chain takes over operation of National Media Museum's three screens". 29 September 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  6. ^ "Record grant creates world-class photography archive". The Independent (London). 10 June 2002. Retrieved 24 October 2011. 
  7. ^ 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." Archived 19 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Movie heaven right here in Bradford". Telegraph & Argus,. 26 June 2009. Retrieved 24 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "Harryhausen donating life's work to Bradford museum". BBC News Online (BBC). 29 June 2010. Retrieved 17 May 2011. 
  10. ^ Green, Mark (30 July 2009). "National Media Museum blog". Retrieved 24 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "Farewell Fantastic Films Weekend". National Media Museum Blog. Retrieved 9 February 2013. 

External links

  • National Media Museum
  • National Museum of Science and Industry
  • Science and Society Picture Library containing photographic images from the museum and other sources
  • Courses taught in partnership with the University of Bradford
  • National Media Museum Blog
  • National Media Museum on youtube
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