Fife’s world class museum with unique collection launches new  membership scheme

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A unique museum with a world class collection in Fife is set to mark its second anniversary with a new membership scheme.

St Monans Camera Museum will launch the initiative on World Photography Day on August 19.

The charity has a collection of 3000 cameras housed in the former Salvation Army Hall in the East Neuk town, and it is inviting people to join as members.

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Its exhibits come from the late Jim Matthew, an avid collector who amassed an amazing array of cameras and related memorabilia. He had almost every Kodak Brownies’ model ever made, as well as many others that were rare in the so west.

Jim Matthew and his camera collection (Pic: submitted)Jim Matthew and his camera collection (Pic: submitted)
Jim Matthew and his camera collection (Pic: submitted)

His private collection was occasionally opened to the public, and, after his death, a charitable trust was set up which successfully raised funds to ensure that it remained in its current home. The museum was opened to the public on World Photography Day in August 2021. Now, two years on, it is launching a membership scheme. Members will work with trustees to help preserve and develop the collection – and to explore the world of film photography.More information is available by email to [email protected]

Dave Smith, charity trustee, said: “The Jim Matthew Camera Collection Trust was set up following Jim’s death in order to keep his huge collection together in its St Monans home. This year, on the second anniversary of our opening, we are launching the membership scheme, to enable people with an interest in photography and its history to join us in preserving this amazing, world-class collection.

“It is truly world class – there are very few collections to rival it in the UK, and with respect to the Eastman Kodak models, there are very few such complete collections in the world – and even fewer that are regularly open to the public. And it's not just cameras - there are numerous other examples of our photographic heritage there too.”

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Mr Smith said membership would also allow enthusiasts to get a more hands-on experience of the diversity of film photography.

Iconic Box Brownies - including Six-20 C and D models on lower shelf (Pic: submitted)Iconic Box Brownies - including Six-20 C and D models on lower shelf (Pic: submitted)
Iconic Box Brownies - including Six-20 C and D models on lower shelf (Pic: submitted)

“As part of our membership scheme, we are making a selection of 35mm and medium format cameras available for members to borrow so that they can try their hand in a field that is experiencing something of a revival – film photography is attracting converts from digital in a way not dissimilar to the resurgence of music on vinyl.” he said.

“We are also looking at other membership projects, including educational outreach and tie-ins; and members will get news updates, invites to members’ events, and not least, get a say in the future of the collection.”

The Jim Matthew Camera Collection is currently open every Thursday from 11:00am to 1:00m to 1:00pm, with additional openings on World Photography Day - which celebrates the Daguerrotype photographic process, devised by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, and then sold to the French Academy of Sciences, being gifted by them to the world on 19 August 183 - from 11:00am to 4:00pm, and during the St Monans Festival, on September 2-3.

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