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Birmingham City Council

Magnum Photos

Library of Birmingham adds to photographic collections with important acquisition from Magnum Photos

Birmingham City Council has added to the Library of Birmingham's internationally important photography collections with the acquisition of seven images from the renowned photographic cooperative, Magnum Photos.

Woman looking at herself in store window

©Richard Kalvar/ Birmingham Library and Archive Services. New York City. 1969. Woman looking at herself in store window

Following the success of 'Take to the Streets', an outdoor exhibition commissioned and curated by the Library of Birmingham in partnership with Magnum and Colmore Business District, the library has acquired seven important images by leading photographers which celebrate the art of candid photography depicting street life in towns and cities around the world. The acquisition strengthens the library's collections ahead of the move to its new site in 2013 and was made possible through the financial support provided for the project by Birmingham City University and the Colmore Business District. The images include work from Bruno Barbey, Richard Kalvar and Chris Steele-Perkins.

Steele-Perkins was also commissioned by the library to work with photography students and staff from Birmingham City University who have been commissioned by the library to make work in response to the business community in Colmore Business District. The work resulted in a book entitled 'Perspectives' available from the Colmore Business District, at £20.

Pete James, Head of Photographs at Birmingham City Council's Library and Archive Services, said: "We are thrilled to acquire prints from Chris Steele-Perkins, Bruno Barbey and Richard Kalvar for our collections, representing the important phenomenon of street photography. When we move to the new Library of Birmingham in 2013 we look forward to making our extensive photographic collections, including important prints such as these, more easily accessible both to visitors to the library building and online, so that they can be enjoyed by people around the world."

The 'Perspectives' project offered Birmingham City University students unique access to businesses within the District and enabled them to gain valuable experience of commercial photographic commissions, mentored by Magnum Photographer Chris Steele Perkins and Birmingham City Council's Library and Archive Services. A number of the emerging photographers continue to be mentored by the Photography Department at the library as they start on their career paths.

Nathan Tromans, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, said: "I'm very happy that the university is playing a key part in this exciting partnership. For any aspiring documentary photographer, it would be a dream to one day work for Magnum, which is undoubtedly the most prestigious and highly regarded photo agency in the world. This legacy project, which follows the 'Take to the Streets' exhibition, will provide our students with a unique opportunity to document the Colmore Business District with creative support from Magnum. I'm convinced that this placement will contribute to their creative work and confidence and I commend the vision of the Colmore Business District, Library of Birmingham and Magnum for this commission. "

Birmingham City Council's Library and Archives Services' Photography Department have a successful record commissioning contemporary photography, curating exhibitions, developing private and public sector partnerships, and managing the institutions massive historical photography archive. In 2006 the archive was awarded Designated Status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council in recognition of its national and international importance. The department has an established track record of commissioning and acquiring new creative photography about the city and this project is another example of this vital work.