The National Photographic Archive

Elizabeth Kirwan is the current curator of the National Photographic Archive which opened in 1998. When it opened the Archive consisted of a new building – designed by O'Donnell and Tuomy – into which the existing collection of the National Library (of which it is a part) was moved. A new catalogue, reviewed in Source at the time, was produced for the opening. Justin Carville in his review said that the archive should be clearer about their acquisitions policy and collect more contemporary photographers.

Since it opened the Archive has undergone a few quiet changes. It has taken an active policy of digitizing its collections and putting them on Flickr. It has acquired a number of collections, notably the Irish Independent Archive. And it has closed, only to re-open nine months later having received a stay of execution from a new board of governors for the Library.

Kirwan and her small staff are now undertaking a stock take which will form the basis of an argument that the Archive should continue to exist. The necessity of this stock take is made apparent when, incredibly, she says that they have discovered the Irish Independent Archive (still described on their website as 300,000 negatives) consists of roughly four million more images than they originally thought. Now, more than ever in its short life, the Archive needs allies who support the idea of a national collection of photography in Ireland.

 

Are they spelling out Help?

 

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