Experimental Photography and Filmmaking in the museum archive with young people (2017-18)


In 2015, the Museum of London began Beyond Documentary, a three-year project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This project has allowed them to expand the museum’s photography collection by collecting images which push the boundaries of traditional photography.

The Museum of London has been collecting and displaying photographs since its creation. The collection’s roots lie in the photographs acquired from 1912 onward by its precursor, the London Museum, and images acquired in the early 1970’s for the museum’s new home at London Wall.

Today the collection encompasses an estimated 150,000 objects, comprising a visual encyclopaedia of London’s physical and social fabric. The strength of the collection lies in its breadth and its documentary focus, with emphasis on working and social life, as well as the topography of London.


The project was not just about acquiring new objects. An important element involved working with young Londoners to give them an insight into the museum and its collections by making a short film about one of the photographers whose work we had collected.

We immediately felt that the only way for the young people could make a film about a photographer’s work was by personally experiencing and feeling the work. Working with the filmmaker and museum staff , we led the 4 different groups of young people into a unknown journey of discovery into what photography is, letting them imagine each photographer’s unique techniques and respond to it. Our camera obscura was definite a winner each time!

To date, four films have been made in this way, each one different from the others, reflecting not only the nature of the subject matter but the ideas and responses of the participants.

Beyond Documentary is a free exhibition at the Museum of London from 27 April 2018.

Read more about this project here:

You can see these films, and the works that inspired them, in Beyond Documentary: Experimental Photography in London 1976-2006.

I was so inspired by the work we all did that I am now doing an MA in Museum Studies with a focus on broadening collections and co-curation projects. Tara