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We give you the story of the founder of the museum!

The Collector Leif Preus

How can it be that one of the world's largest and most valuable photo collections is found in Horten? And why is the national photography museum called Preus museum?

This little exhibition will hopefully give you the answers!

  • Reklameskilt for Preus Foto AS

Leif Preus (1928–2013) was an entrepreneur, businessman, photographer, collector and an enthusiastic photo historian. 

Perhaps you are old enough to have sent film rolls in a red bag for development at Preus Foto AS? Or perhaps you have even worked at the photo lab in Elgstien in Horten?


After eight years in the Navy, Preus started his own photography company in 1956. After a while, the company grew to become Norway’s biggest photography business, with a leading photography lab and its own chain store. Leif Preus soon realised the importance of having employees with knowledge about photography, and he was actively working towards building a photo museum. 

The major profits from Preus Foto AS enabled Preus to do a series of spectacular purchases during the 1970s and 1980s. He became well known name within the market for rare cameras, vintage photographs and unique photobooks.

  • Shop window with cameras for sale and a photograph of a smiling woman. Black and white photograph.
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    Leif Preus, Christmas exhibition in the photo shop in Storgt. 44, 1967. Preus Museum Collection.

The collection became the foundation of the Preus Photo Museum that he opened in 1976, situated in Langgata in Horten. This was the previous location for Preus photo lab, which had to be relocated to a bigger space in Elgstien. One year after the opening, the museum was nominated, along eight other museums in the world, for the European Museum of the Year Award.

In 1995 the collection was bought by the Norwegian state and became the foundation for the Norwegian Museum of Photography – Preus Photo Museum. The collection was then moved from Langgata to Karljohansvern in 1998. On the 26th of May 2001, the new national photo museum could welcome its visitors into the refurbished venue on the fourth floor at Karljohansvern in Horten. In 2005, the museum received its current name, Preus Museum.

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  • Many older wooden cameras on a table. In a mirror we see a man with a camera photographing what is on the table. Photograph.
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    Leif Preus, Self-portrait photographed with Sutton's panoramic camera, 1974. Preus Museum Collection.
Museum24:Portal - 2024.04.15
Grunnstilsett-versjon: 2