The Robinson Photographic Collection comprises over 20,000 negatives and was purchased by the Devonport City Council in 1993. The images, which vary in subject from portraits to land-scapes, street-scapes and crowd-scapes, were taken by Bert Robinson and his son Albert. Bert established the photographic business in Devonport in 1927. Following his death in 1953, his son Albert carried on the studio until he died suddenly in 1975, when the business ceased to operate.
In recent years, the Gallery has employed photographers Dr. Ellie Ray and Dr. David Martin to develop a series of exhibitions which interpret the Robinson Collection using a contemporary point of view. Ray and Martin have reprinted selected negatives from the Robinson Collection in large format, in some cases using old photographic techniques to achieve tones and effects in keeping with the production of photographs during the Robinsons' era.
Ray writes: ‘The blemishes and scratches on many of the early negatives in the Robinson Collection are a reminder of the material's age and the vulnerability of the glass and cellulose negatives. In a post-analogue age these issues are no longer relevant for the creation of digital imagery. Consequently, the Robinson Collection, as well as being a valuable resource for interpreting past social and political events on the North West Coast, provides an insight into the history of photographic practice.'
Recent exhibitions have included Sweetness and Light: Photographs of Children from the Robinson Collection (2004), The Art of Display (2005), Onlooking (2006), and the road to here (2007).