The National Media Museum has announced that around 400,000 images from its three million-strong photography collection are to be transferred from Bradford to the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London. 

The museums say the "historic agreement" will create the world’s foremost single collection on the art of photography, with the images set to be combined with the V&A's current collection of of 500,000 images to form an International Photography Resource Centre, providing the public and independent researchers with a "peerless facility" to access this consolidated national collection.

Jo Quinton-Tulloch, director of the National Media Museum, part of the Science Museum Group, said the move reinforced the Bradford museum's shifting focus on STEM - science, engineering, maths, and technology - set to be heralded by a new £1.5 million interactive light and sound gallery, due to open in March 2017. 

"The next 12 months will see the culmination of our shift in focus and the opening of a world-leading new interactive gallery – the result of several years’ work since I became director," said Miss Quinton-Tulloch. 

"Our new mission will concentrate on inspiring future generations of scientists and engineers in the fields of light and sound, as well as demonstrating the cultural impact of these subjects.

"We retain millions of objects in our photography, cinematography and television collections which will help us make these scientific principles tangible and exciting, including hundreds that also have a special significance to Bradford and the region."

As part of the agreement, the V&A will ensure that the National Media Museum can continue to access the transferred collections for exhibitions and scholarship. 

V&A director, Martin Roth, said: "The V&A and Science Museum Group have shared origins and uniting our complementary collections will create a peerless historical and artistic photography resource.

"Our ambitious plans for enhancing digital access, collaborative research, touring exhibitions and creating an International Photography Resource Centre will mean that future generations of visitors and researchers will benefit from these examples of the most important artistic developments in photographic history."

The National Media Museum will retain collections that support an understanding of the development of photographic processes, such as the Kodak collection, the ongoing cultural impact of photography, such as the Daily Herald archive, as well as photographic archives that have specific relevance to Bradford, including the Impressions Gallery archive.

The Museum’s increased focus on the STEM agenda has received support from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and strong local backing, with significant investment in learning programmes by Bradford Council, as well as investment from the Science Museum Group in a new interactive science gallery for families.