National Media Museum

National Media Museum

NMM with statue of J. B. Priestley
Former name National Museum of Photography, Film and Television
Established 16 June 1983
Location Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, UK
Coordinates 53°47′26″N 1°45′20″W / 53.790556°N 1.755556°W / 53.790556; -1.755556
Collections National Photography Collection, National Cinematography Collection, National Television Collection, National New Media Collection
Collection size 3.5 million items

442,314 (2015)[1]

Director Jo Quinton-Tulloch
Curator Michael Terwey
Science Museum Group

The National Media Museum (formerly the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television), located in Bradford, West Yorkshire, 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 has three cinemas, operated in partnership with Picturehouse Cinemas, including an IMAX screen, and has previously hosted popular film festivals, including the Bradford International Film Festival until 2014.

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] As of February 2016 the museum, in response to revenue shortfalls, has controversially adopted a policy of focusing on "the science and culture of light and sound"—to the exclusion of what are seen as "unsustainable" aspects of creativity and culture, such as past film festivals.[4]

In March 2016 a 7.5 million pound five year investment plan in the museum was revealed by the Science Museum Group.[5]

Building and admission

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 six permanent exhibitions:

Tableau in the Kodak Gallery
Magic Factory
Games Lounge


Entrance to the IMAX cinema

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]

Pictureville Cinema showing curved wide screen

The museum also incorporates the Pictureville Cinema – opened in 1992 and described by David Puttnam as 'the best cinema in the world ',[9] Pictureville Cinema screens everything from 70 mm 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 35 mm Cinerama prints.[10] In 2008, the cinema presented the only true recorded public screening of Danny Boyle's 2002 film Alien Love Triangle.

The Cubby Broccoli Cinema (in memory of Cubby Broccoli, producer of James Bond films), contains 106 seats and is used for a variety of film shows.


Insight is a facility where members of the public can (by prior booking) view parts of the collections which are not on general display.

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 held in the Pictureville Cinema.


Playschool puppets

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.[11] 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.[12]


The museum occupies a site originally proposed for a theatre in central Bradford, for which work begun in the 1960s remained unfinished.[13] Resulting from discussions between Dame Margaret Weston of the Science Museum, London and Bradford city councillors,[13] the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, as it was then called, opened 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 in 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 which the museum has a partnership for BSc and BA courses in media and television.

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% 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 and two new £3 million interactive galleries were opened: Experience TV (now closed) and TV Heaven, (now changed to BFI) dedicated to the past, present and future of television. The galleries displayed scientific exhibits, such as John Logie Baird's original apparatus, and television ephemera such as Wallace and Gromit and Play School toys. TV Heaven made accessible the museum's collection of television programmes, most of which are not available elsewhere.

In 2009 the museum partnered with other bodies from the Bradford district in a successful bid to become the world's first UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) City of Film.[14]

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, resulting in creation of a permanent Lounge in another part of the cinema.[15]

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. There is a permanent exhibition in the foyer and a second changing temporary exhibition on Level 7. The first temporary exhibition was [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 save money and relinquish responsibility for film. The partnership is designated "Picturehouse at the National Media Museum".[16]

In August 2016, the museum confirmed plans to permanently close their Experience TV gallery on 30 August 2016, to be replaced by an interactive science exhibit named Wonderlab around March 2017.[17] The collection is now only available by booking through the Insight centre at the museum.

Despite sustained growth in ticket sales,[18] the museum cancelled its participation in the 2015 Bradford International Film Festival[19] and followed up by totally withdrawing from the festival the following year.[20] This move, together with the transfer of a major photographic collection to London's Victoria and Albert Museum, is very controversial.[21][22]

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

Film festivals

The Museum organised and held four major film events every year: Bradford International Film Festival, Bradford Animation Festival, Bite the Mango and Fantastic Films Weekend. These attracted international speakers and new and classic works from around the world. All four festivals were eventually cancelled by the museum.

Bradford International Film Festival

From its inception in 1995, Bradford International Film Festival (BIFF) presented new and classic films from around the world. The Festival presented films in their original formats wherever possible, and existed to develop understanding of the art and science of the moving image by hosting innovators in many fields of filmmaking.

BIFF included the Shine Awards - which highlighting the work of new European directors, a Filmmakers Weekend designed to offer guidance and support to filmmakers in the north of England, and the Widescreen Weekend, which discussed film formats including Cinerama, VistaVision, 70 mm and IMAX.

Guests at Bradford International Film Festival included Riz Ahmed, Jenny Agutter, Michael Apted, David Arnold, Thomas Arslan, Ken Annakin, Olivier Assayas, Richard Attenborough, Simon Beaufoy, Alan Bennett, James Benning, Claire Bloom, Kenneth Branagh, Adam Buxton, Jack Cardiff, Ian Carmichael, Gurinder Chadha, Tom Courtenay, Mark Cousins, Alex Cox, Brian Cox, Benedict Cumberbatch, Terence Davies, Michael Deeley, Denis Dercourt, The Dodge Brothers, James Ellis, Mike Figgis, Freddie Francis, Terry Gilliam, Stephen Graham, Richard Griffiths, Ronald Harwood, Mike Hodges, Joanna Hogg, John Hurt, Derek Jacobi, Gualtiero Jacopetti, Terry Jones, Patrick Keiller, Mark Kermode, Mike Leigh, Euan Lloyd, Ken Loach, Malcolm McDowell, Virginia McKenna, Fernando Meirelles, Kay Mellor, Metamono, Chris Morris, Barry Norman, Michael Palin, Pawel Pawlikowski, Christian Petzold, Sally Potter, Godfrey Reggio, Menelik Shabazz, John Shuttleworth, Jean Simmons, Timothy Spall, Imelda Staunton, Eric Sykes, Julien Temple, Alex Thomson, Richard Todd, Danny Trejo, Roy Ward Baker, Peter Whitehead, Michael G. Wilson, Barbara Windsor, Ray Winstone, Stephen Woolley, Thierry Zéno and many independent filmmakers from around the world.

Other special programmes included Bradford After Dark (new horror films), Alexey Balabanov, Stan Brakhage, Richard Burton, new Canadian cinema, Pierre Clementi, Alexander Dovzhenko, Hauntology, a centenary of Indian cinema, Chuck Jones, James Mason, Yoshitaro Nomura, Nicolas Roeg, sixpackfilm, American Teen Movies, Uncharted States of America (undiscovered American Cinema), Amos Vogel, and the science films of Charles Urban.[23]

Bradford Animation Film Festival

The animation and video games festival was the UK's leading event of its kind; host to discussions, workshops and special events. The annual BAF Awards honoured 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.

After the museum ended the festival following its 20th edition in 2014, former museum staff successfully revived the event in Manchester in November 2015 as Manchester Animation Festival.

Fantastic Films Weekend

This 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.[24]


  1. "Museums and galleries monthly visits". Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  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. Quinton-Tulloch, Jo My Message to Bradford Museum Director, at, 4 February 2016
  6. bfi-mediatheques National Media Museum Bradford
  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.
  10. Green, Mark (30 July 2009). "National Media Museum blog". Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  11. "Record grant creates world-class photography archive". The Independent. London. 10 June 2002. Retrieved 24 October 2011.
  12. "Harryhausen donating life's work to Bradford museum". BBC News Online. BBC. 29 June 2010. Retrieved 17 May 2011.
  13. 1 2 Bell, John (1983). The Flash, Bang, Wallop Show. New Scientist. p. 961.
  14. Bradford wins Unesco City of Film award. The Guardian, 12 June 2009. Retrieved 18 February 2016
  15. Maldonado, Adrián Medium Archaeology Part 1: Beyond TV Typology at the National Media Museum at, 13 January 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2016
  16. "Cinema chain takes over operation of National Media Museum's three screens". 29 September 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  17. The Telegraph and Argus 13 Aug 2016 Last chance to experience TV relics from the past, ahead of £1.8m new gallery at National Media Museum
  18. "Concern over future of Bradford International Film Festival". 24 July 2014. Retrieved 8 March 2016.
  19. Bradford International Film Festival cancelled for 2015. BBC News, Leeds & West Yorkshire, 23 July 2014. Retrieved 18 February 2016
  20. National Media Museum axes Bradford International Film Festival. BBC News, Leeds & West Yorkshire, 4 February 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2016
  21. Furness, Hannah V&A accused of 'cultural rape' after Bradford museum loses photo collection. The Telegraph, 2 February 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2016
  22. Wilde, Claire CUT! Anger and concern as Media Museum abandons Bradford International Film Festival. Telegraph & Argus, 4 February 2016. Retrieved 18 February 2016
  24. "Farewell Fantastic Films Weekend". National Media Museum Blog. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
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