FOMU collects images that illustrate the history of (Belgian) photography in all its aspects. This means that the collection does not focus solely on the work of prominent photographers but also on that of any photographer who is representative of a particular period, genre or type of application, whether artistic, journalistic, documentary or applied, within the medium of photography.

The photographic image collection has over 915.000 items (including negatives). It incorporates both:

  • International and Belgian photographs;
  • Historic and contemporary works;
  • Art and documentary photography;
  • Creative and applied photography;
  • Glass plates, negatives, slides, autochromes, contact prints, photographs and photo books.



The transfer of the archives and library of the Association Belge de Photographie from the City of Antwerp’s print room (1966) formed an exciting start to the collection, with important examples of Belgian photography and a significant collection of works by Pierre Dubreuil.


In 1978, FOMU acquired part of the Fritz L. Grüber private collection (Cologne), with works by, among many others, August Sander, Ralph Steiner, Erich Lessing, Horst Baumann, Herbert List, Robert Lebeck, Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Marc Riboud, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Cecil Beaton, Bill Brandt, Edward Steichen, Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Gordon Parks, Bruce Davidson, Irving Penn, Ernst Haas, Hiroshi Hamaya, Yousuf Karsh, Robert Capa, Horst P. Horst, William Klein, Christian Vogt and Franco Fontana.


In the ‘90s, several project sponsorships allowed FOMU to expand its post-war American photography (Lewis Baltz, Stephen Shore, Nicholas Nixon, Robert Adams, Lee Friedlander, Joel-Peter Witkin, Aaron Siskind, Harry Callahan) and its 19th-century Belgian photography (L.P.T. Dubois de Nehaut, Louis-Joseph Ghémar, Edmond Fierlants, Guillaume Claine, Gilbert Radoux, Jules Géruzet) collections.


In 1966, the Gevaert company donated its publication service archive to FOMU. This archive includes the majority of all the photographs that were ever published in the Fotorama magazine, with works by, among others, Brassaï, Robert Doisneau, Edouard Boubat, Willy Ronis, Fulvio Roiter and the leading representatives of Subjective Photography in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.

This archive was recently expanded with the addition of the Agfa-Gevaert Historical Archive, which was donated to FOMU by the province of Antwerp in 2015. This comprehensive collection of heritage pieces forms a unique testimony to Belgian photography and to the history of the industry. The archive contains information about Lieven Gevaert and the Gevaert company (1894-1971). Together with several partners, FOMU is engaged in a repurposing plan and is committed to preserving this valuable heritage and to eventually opening it to the public.


FOMU is the custodian for several large archives of Belgian photographers, including those of Antoon Dries, Paule Pia, Patrick De Spiegelaere, Filip Tas, Frank Philippi, Gerald Dauphin, Suzy Embo, Willy Boeckstijns, Willy De Roos, de Union Coloniale Belge, Frans Van de Poel, Rob Reusens, de Mission Dhuicque, Le Lynx, the Vlaamse Toeristenbond, Pater Longinus De Munter, Bert Bracke, Gilbert D’Haen, Willy Kessels and the Turfkruyer foundation.

In 2015, the renowned Antwerp photographer Herman Selleslags gave his magnificent photographic archive and that of his father Rik Selleslags on permanent loan to FOMU.


The collection is constantly growing with the acquisition of both old and new photographs. In 2014, FOMU purchased the rare 19th-century publication Traité de photographie sur papier avec une introduction de Georges Ville by Louis-Désiré Blanquart-Evrart. This treatise marks the transformation of photography on paper into a real industry.

Furthermore, as part of our focus on young Belgian talent, we purchased works by the young photographers Max Pinckers, Frederick Buyckx, David Widart and Bieke Depoorter.

In 2015, FOMU acquired an exceptional collection of albums and albumin prints attributed to the Belgian painter and sculptor Jacques de Lalaing (1858-1917). The prints probably date to around 1883 and are mainly nude studies of male and female life models.

Back in 2010, FOMU purchased several photographs by Nick Hannes from the series Red Journey. In 2015, we added works from his series Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man.

In the context of the collection presentation Photography Inc. From Luxury Product to Mass Medium (2015), we acquired a number of exceptional daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and political cartoons from a German private collection.


Where the development of the collection is concerned, FOMU is facing some critical challenges and needs to reposition itself on the (inter)national stage. FOMU is working on a clear plan for the collection profile and policy, which will be finalised by 2018.