AHRC Capability for Collections Grant

Facing the Future: Imaging Solutions for a Transformed National Portrait Gallery

In 2021 the Gallery was delighted to receive a grant from the UKRI-AHRC ‘Capability for Collections Fund’ to allow the urgent replacement and upgrade of core equipment and instruments in conservation and digitisation. The Gallery has a strong track record of investment in its research infrastructure; however its suite of imaging equipment was at risk of becoming obsolete, and a barrier to research and innovation. The award from the ‘Capability for Collections Fund’ allowed the NPG to purchase:

  • a Leica DMC 6200 Digital Camera for use with the existing table mounted MZ16 stereomicroscope, as well as new LED and UV light sources
  • an HD CR 35 NDT Computed Radiography System and D-Tect X software for use with the existing X-ray set
  • an Apollo infrared reflectography camera
  • an Hasselblad H6D-400c multishot camera

The grant also funded the development of a Mirador web-based viewer to allow high resolution technical images to be viewed and compared easily, and all new technical images, as well as existing digital technical images, have been converted to IIIF compliant format. The viewer is available for the public to use via a dedicated terminal in the public study room of the archive and library. Enhanced digital photography has also allowed the Gallery to make more of the Collection accessible online. The grant from the ‘Capability for Collections Fund’ has transformed the Gallery’s research capability and is playing a dynamic role in research and development for the new displays and digital offer for Inspiring People. To make way for building works, the whole collection has been decanted, and many works that are usually on display are currently accessible for digitisation and research. The upgraded imaging equipment has opened up research opportunities during this unprecedented moment in the Gallery’s history. It is being used to generate new knowledge about the collections, to inform conservation treatments, and to underpin the Gallery’s collaborative research process.

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