A unique record of life in Perth and Perthshire from the 1850s to the present day. Perth Museum & Art Gallery’s photographic collections are considerable with upwards of 150,000 images. They contain examples of the earliest photographic processes right through to the digital photography of today.
Accessing the photographic collections
Perth Museum & Art Gallery is committed to improving the access to our vast collection of photographs. The work of computerising the collection is ongoing with the help of volunteers.
The Magnus Jackson Collection
Our earliest photographs of Perth and Perthshire are mostly found within this wonderful collection of about 2,500 glass plate negatives. Magnus Jackson built his first photographic studio on Marshall Place, Perth in the late 1850s where St Leonard’s in the Fields Church now stands.
As well as being a fine photographer, Magnus was elected to the Town Council in 1878 and his active involvement in public affairs is clearly reflected in the scope of his photographic work.
Magnus photographed all manner of subjects from street scenes and local businesses to people both in his studio and the workplace. His photographic work also took him out into the estates and mansion houses around Perthshire, undeterred by the cumbersome equipment and processes of the time.
Landscape and tree photography were Magnus’s favourite subjects and he was widely recognised for his work in these areas.
You can see more of Magnus Jackson’s award winning tree photography, on the Big Tree Country website.
The Wood & Son Collection
Wood & Son Printers, Perth, produced a series of postcard views of Perthshire from photographs taken by several local photographers between 1903 and 1923. These were published as the Woodall Series of black & white and hand coloured postcards. Perth Museum & Art Gallery cares for the 1067 negatives which have all been digitised.
The Laing Collection
Our most recently acquired collection of over 13,000 images taken between 1927 and 1993 from the business of D Wilson Laing Photographers, Blairgowrie, is the subject of an exhibition ‘A Laing Exposure‘ at our Alyth branch Museum. Find out more about how this fascinating body of work was saved by viewing the exhibition at Alyth Museum between May and September.
The Cowper / Flood Collection
This is our biggest single collection of images consisting of around 100,000 negatives taken from 1948 and running right through to the 1990s. The photographs were taken by Alex Cowper and later Louis Flood Photographers operating from 40 and 41 respectively, South Methven Street, Perth. Much of the work was aimed at the many newspapers of the time which provided a healthy market for pictures of local interest.
The McLaren Collection
P K McLaren worked for his father’s photographic business Starphotos initially but from about 1945 he had set up his own business as a commercial photographer of high calibre. Perth Museum & Art Gallery has about 5000 of his negatives from the 1950s and 60s. Two dedicated volunteer workers have recently transcribed his card based records for addition to our electronic collections database.
Between 1986 and 1989 local photographer Aase Goldsmith was commissioned to record everyday life in her home village of Scone, Perthshire. This body of work was the basis of an exhibition at the time and the negatives now form part of the permanent collection at Perth Museum & Art Gallery.
We have recently completed a project to catalogue and digitise over 5000 lantern slides in the photographic collection. This project has been made possible through the Recognition Fund administered through Museums Galleries Scotland. The lantern slide collection is a diverse mixture of local and national subjects, historic sites and natural history.
The collection contains a small number of Daguerreotype portraits. One of the oldest photographic processes it was invented by the Frenchman Louis Daguerre in 1839. Each unique image is formed on a silvered copper plate and its delicate surface protected by glass in an individual hinged case.
Hill and Adamson Calotypes
Among the most treasured items in the collection are 15 Hill and Adamson prints from calotype negatives and a book of 47 carbon prints compiled from the collection of Andrew Elliot in Edinburgh 1928.
David Octavius Hill was a Perth born artist who teamed up with photographer Robert Adamson from Burnside near St Andrews to form a photographic partnership of worldwide repute. Operating from their Rock House studio on Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Hill and Adamson produced portraits of the famous and influential people of the day. Using the calotype photographic process first invented by Henry Fox Talbot, they produced between 1843 and 1847 a body of work which is still powerful today
There are other smaller collections and individual items of no lesser importance than those mentioned above.
The Photographic Collections are still being added to today both through our own photographic recording and careful collecting.