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The photo collection

When the Norwegian state bought Preus Photo Museum in 1995, the museum's photo collection became the base in the national photo museum's collection. The collection was a large and comprehensive with an emphasis on international photo history and well-known names.

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Most of the 4,000 photographs that the white paper refers to that the Norwegian state bought from Preus Photo Museum, had an aesthetic, artistic design with a main emphasis on internationally known photography, while it was somewhat weak when it came to Norwegian art photography. According to the founder Leif Preus himself, this was because he did not want to come into conflict with the collecting of the other Norwegian art institutions.

The collection’s growth after 1995 has therefore focused on Norwegian photographers and contemporary art. A project in 1998 investigated which photographers had participated in the exhibitions organized by the Association of Free Photographers (Forbundet Frie Fotografer/FFF) between 1976 and 1992, and a selection of photographers who had been active throughout the period was selected for purchase. The project was put on hold in 2001 when the museum's costs rose.

Purchases have also been made in connection with the museum's exhibition activities. The most extensive purchases were made in connection with the exhibition "The Art of Falling" in 2009. Here, emphasis was placed on collecting as much performative photography as possible. This has given the museum a small but representative collection of photography documenting Norwegian performance and process art from 1966–2009, something the museum has won recognition (Veiteberg).

Preus Museum was also for several years on the list of museums that received "young and experimental" from the Norwegian Culture Council's purchasing committee and received around 30 works through this arrangement. It has not been possible to continue the collection of international photographic art to any great extent. This is mainly due to two factors, firstly, the market for photographic art has exploded, and the museum's budget has not been large enough to prioritize such expensive purchases.

The Ministry of Culture's extraordinary grant of a total of NOK 5 million in Corona funds earmarked for the purchase of art has made that the museum able to incorporate key works from several Norwegian contemporary photographic artists in the collection, almost like a time capsule of Norwegian photographic art from the last decade. Furthermore, the museum received a gift from the Sparebankstiftelsen which enabled the purchase of Olav Løkke's photo collection. This collection contains just under 2,000 photographic works by the earliest Norwegian photographic artists and constitutes a fantastic supplement to already existing material of this category in the museum's collection.

  • Close up photography of a dead fly.
    © Kirsti van Hoegee, from the series Light Trap, 2014. Preus museum Collection
  • Close-up of a large gray lump of clay on a white table. Photograph.
    © Morten Torgersrud, Lumps, 2014. Preus museum Collection.
  • Black and white image of a large boulder in a desert landscape. There is a paved road and curb around the rock and some conifers. Tourists are taking photos. Photograph.
    © Christine Hansen, Tourists at Joshua Tree, 2018. Analogue photograph (digitized for web). Preus museum Collection
  • A paved road slopes through a desert landscape.
    © Line Anda Dalmar, CA-127 Tecopa, 2018. Preus museum Collection

Altogether, Preus Museum holds around 10,000 works in the collection, and close to 7,000 of these are from Norwegian photographers. In addition, the collection consists of many images that can be described as vernacular photography. These are important for understanding photography's importance and role in social development over the past 200 years. In connection with the sale of the collection, Leif Preus had several overviews of important partial collections of this type prepared. For example, the museum has a great collection of Autochromes and other colour raster photographs, i.e., the earliest methods of capturing colour in photography.


  • Hans Grendahl Stereobilleder (Småskriftsserie nr 1, 1992) ​
  • A.B.Wilse (Småskriftsserie nr 2, 1992) 
  • Prof. Dr. Albert Nataths Archiv (Småskriftsserie nr 3, 1992) 
  • Edward Steichen Collection Album (Småskriftsserie nr 4, 1993) 
  • Turist- og reiseliv. Diverse fotografier. (Småskriftsserie nr 5, 1993) 
  • Billedsamlingen (Småskriftsserie nr 6, 1993) 
  • Mogens Skot-Hansen Collection (Småskriftsserie nr 7, 1993 
  • The Lippmann Colour Process Album (Småskriftsserie nr 8, 1993) 
  • Album (Småskriftsserie nr 9, 1993) 
  • Trykk. Litografier, tegninger etc. (Småskriftsserie nr 10, 1993) 
  • Daguerreotypoer & Ambrotypier (Småskriftsserie nr 11, 1993) 
  • Auochromer Album (Småskriftsserie nr 12, 1993) 
  • Tidsskrift (Småskriftsserie nr 13???, 1994) 
  • Tidsskrift-dubletter (Småskriftsserie nr 14, 1994) 
Museum24:Portal - 2024.06.11
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