History

EXHIBITION  125 YEARS OF PHOTOGRAPHY

The 1965 exhibition125 Years of Photography at the Provinciaal Museum voor Kunstambachten Sterckshof (the Sterckshof Provincial Museum for Applied Arts) in Deurne formed the impetus for the creation of a new department: Photography & Film. Karel Sano, branch manager at Gevaert Photoproducten N.V. in Mortsel, initially hoped to set up a photography museum on company premises, similar to the Agfa Photo Historama in Leverkusen. Here, there would be exhibited historical equipment and images. But the company showed little interest in his idea so he turned to Piet Baudouin, the curator of Museum Sterckshof at the time, and explained his vision. This led to the aforementioned 125 Years of Photography exhibition, which was sponsored by the newly merged Agfa-Gevaert company.

MUSEUM STERCKSHOF: PHOTOGRAPHY & FILM DEPARTMENT

Following the success of the125 Years of Photography exhibition, which, incidentally, was transferred to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the objects on loan from the Agfa-Gevaert company along with its defunct publication service archives were transferred to the province of Antwerp. This collection was to form the nucleus of a permanent department within the museum dedicated to the history of photography.

The management of this department was entrusted to the Foto & Film working committee made up of a group of volunteers led by Karel Sano and later succeeded by Dr Laurent Roosens. From 1973 onwards, the tasks of the working committee were gradually taken over by the academic staff of the Museum Sterckshof. Under the supervision of the historian Roger Coenen, later assisted by the art historian Pool Andries, the camera, photograph and library collections outgrew the available space at the Sterckshof.

At the end of 1980, the entire department with its administration offices and archives escaped to an office building in Karel Oomsstraat, Antwerp, from which point it was called the Museum voor Fotografie.

NEW MUSEUM ON THE WAALSEKAAI

In 1986, the museum found a permanent home in the renovated “Vlaanderen” warehouse on the Waalsekaai, Antwerp. The purchase of adjacent buildings allowed for the dramatic expansion of the museum. The architect Georges Baines was commissioned to design a new wing for the warehouse.

After four years of remodelling and construction work, the modernised Fotomuseum reopened in 2004 with 1,400m2 of exhibition halls, two screening rooms, additional depots, an expanded entrance area and a workshop. National recognition for FOMU in 2009 allowed the museum to pursue a dynamic policy. In 2013, FOMU cleared two adjacent plots in preparation for the building of a collection tower: the Lieven Gevaert Tower. This building will function as a carbon neutral depot and will be operational in late 2016.