Off the Record, 1st December – Creswell’s Archive at the V&A: Middle Eastern topographical photographs dating from the early 20th century


This Friday ‘Off the Record’ welcomes Dr Omniya Abdel Barr, Barakat Visiting Fellow at the Victoria & Albert Museum, who will speak about Creswell’s Archive at the V&A: Middle Eastern topographical photographs dating from the early 20th century.

Friday 1st December, 1-2pm in room B13. All welcome!


Professor Sir Keppel Archibald Cameron Creswell (1879 – 1974), a pioneer of medieval Islamic architectural scholarship, travelled extensively in the Middle East, photographing sites along the way and leaving an extremely important photographic archive which is now preserved in a number of international collections. Noting his expertise in the subject of Islamic art and architecture, as well as his unique opportunities to take such photographs, in the 1920s the V&A became the first public collection to acquire Creswell’s work. The Museum now holds more than three thousand of his photographic prints, the majority of which depict Cairo, but also other cities across the Middle East and North Africa.

As part of the V&A’s commitment to digitising and thus improving access to its collection, this archive is now being analysed and systematically catalogued by researcher Omniya Abdel Barr, with funding from the Barakat Trust. During this talk, she will discuss her efforts to investigate Creswell’s photographs as well as the stories they reveal; adding geospatial data to map these historic sites and including Arabic script which will allow this important collection to be more accessible to our audiences. The project will also support the identification of valuable architectural elements which are today lost, destroyed or stolen from Islamic monuments, permanently documenting the fading traces of these important cultural sites.



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