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14 Mar 2012

Death of Robert Elwall, photography curator

Robert Elwall (1953-2012), historian of photography and curator

“Architecture’s relationship with photography has been intimate and dynamic … In Britain, nobody played a more important role in illuminating and preserving this historic panorama than Robert Elwall, photographs curator at the Royal Institute of British Architects, who has died at the age of 59” (obituary by Jay Merrick, The Independent, 14 March 2012)

“It is hard now to imagine how neglected photographs were among the collections of the RIBA in the late 1970s when Robert Elwall, a history graduate from Oxford, was a young member of the library staff. In the process of helping the then Librarian, David Dean, to assemble material for an exhibition on the 1930s, a small room was discovered at 66, Portland Place with four or five filing cabinets containing images left over from pre-war exhibition displays … and from the RIBA Press Office. This was the core of what is now one of the finest archives of photographs of its kind, whose acquisition was Robert’s outstanding achievement.” (Alan Powers, ‘Robert Elwall and the RIBA Photographs Collection’, The Journal of Architecture, 17:5 (2012))