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With the backing of the now merged Agfa-Gevaert, Karel Sano and Piet Baudouin, department manager at Gevaert Photoproducten N.V. and then curator of the Sterckshof Museum, respectively, organised an exhibition entitled ‘125 Years of Photography’ in the Provincial Museum for Arts and Crafts Sterckshof in Deurne in 1965. On the back of this exhibition, the loans from the Agfa-Gevaert company, together with the archives of its former publishing department, were signed over to the Province of Antwerp. This collection represented the start of a permanent department within the museum dedicated to the history of photography. The running of this department was entrusted to the Foto & Film working committee under the watchful eye of Karel Sano, later succeeded by doctor Laurent Roosens. From 1973 onwards, the responsibilities of this working committee were gradually transferred to the scientific staff of the Sterckshof Museum.

Under the leadership of historian Roger Coenen - later to be assisted by art historian Pool Andries - the camera, photography and library collections outgrew the Sterckshof. In late 1980, the department moved to an office building in the Karel Oomsstraat in Antwerp, where it was re-named ‘Museum for Photography’. In 1986, the museum and its collections found a permanent home in the renovated Flanders warehouse on the Waalsekaai. Architect Georges Baines built a new wing to the warehouse, drastically increasing its capacity. The year 2000 saw the start of another major renovation. After four years, the renovated Photo Museum opened with 1400m2of exhibition space, two cinema theatres, a number of extra depots, an enlarged entrance hall and a workshop space. In 2009, the museum received national recognition. Its capacity was further increased with the construction of the Lieven Gevaert Tower, the first low-energy depot for photography in Europe.

Today, the FOMU is a fully-fledged (inter)national heritage management institution that has grown in terms of not only infrastructure, but also operations and personnel.

FOMU 1986 Gevel
Fotomuseum Antwerp (1986)