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By National Science and Media Museum on

Happy birthday – life begins at 40!

Happy birthday to us! On 16 June 1983, we opened our doors for the very first time, as the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television. 40 years, a few name iterations and millions of visitors later, we're still here.

We’re still inspiring visitors to think about the impact of image and sound technologies on their lives, and to find their own stories in our displays, exhibitions and events.

Over the last 40 years, the significance and popularity of these media has skyrocketed as they have permeated all aspects of everyday life. In the words of Colin Ford, the first Director of the museum:

“Every one of us is involved in photography, film and television. We look at photographs in newspapers when we get up in the morning, we see moving photographs on the television before we go to bed. These media are part of everybody’s lives.”

The exterior of the museum in the 1980s
The National Museum of Photography, Film and Television opened in 1983.

To celebrate this momentous occasion, while the museum is temporarily closed for a once in a generation transformation, we called upon friends of the museum new and old to share their memories from the last 40 years.

The growing popularity and evolution of media technologies has made the role we play in preserving these stories more important now than ever before. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t had fun while doing it!

In fact, the last 40 years have been jam-packed with many incredible moments.

David Hockney collaborated with the museum in 1985, creating a photographic montage based on the museum building.
A Bond car in the museum foyer with '007' projected onto the floor
In 2002, a landmark exhibition celebrated 40 years of James Bond.
Workmen removing large name lettering from the side of a building
The museum relaunched as the National Media Museum in 2007, expanding our remit to encompass the web and digital technology.
Tim Peake and his Soyuz descent module
Tim Peake’s Soyuz space descent module visited the museum in 2017.

Now, as we enter a year of closure, we’re looking forward to what the next 40 years (and beyond) will bring—especially with our transformative Sound and Vision Project, which will enable us to continue sharing the incredible and ground-breaking stories in our collection for years to come.

However, while our doors are closed for our exciting makeover we still want to celebrate our birthday with you. We would love to hear what your favourite memories are from the last 40 years. Share your memories by leaving a comment below, or on our social media channels.

3 comments on “Happy birthday – life begins at 40!

  1. Came with a school a few weeks after you opened and to this day I still enjoy the Kodak Gallery and used to enjoy the old style Newsroom you had with teleprinters etc.

  2. As the son of a photographer – we made a few pilgrimages to the National Museum of Photography Film and Television. We have kept the tradition going and have taken our kids along to the museum over the years.

    My favourite exhibition was the Ray Harryhausen one – truly inspiring.

    Here’s to another 40 years.

  3. Come with my children all the time.The kids love seeing each other on television.My son loved telling the news on the display you had.One of the favourites was the flying carpet. Morph and the Dalek were great too. See you when you open again can’t wait..

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