Amassed by photography enthusiast Murray MacKinnon, who launched a chain of film-processing stores in the 1980s, pictures in the collection provide a visual record of how Scotland has changed physically, socially and economically since the 1840s. It includes scenes of daily life, family portraits, street scenes, mountains and monuments.
The 14,000 images date from the earliest days of photography in the 1840s up to the 1940s. Funds were raised thanks to a collaboration between the National Library of Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland, each of which raised £125,000.
Remaining funds came from the Heritage Lottery Fund (£350,000), the Scottish government (£300,000) and the Art Fund (£100,000).
Funds will also go toward the curation, touring and digitisation of the collection as well as ensuring it is not broken up.
“The MacKinnon collection is one of the most remarkable collections of Scottish photography and an invaluable resource for researchers, students and the wider public,” says culture secretary Fiona Hyslop.
Among the highlights are a photo of Loch Katrine by William Henry Fox Talbot, portraits of Scottish regiments from the Crimean War by Roger Fenton and early commercial photographs by George Washington Wilson.
National Librarian Dr John Scally said: “Scotland has a unique relationship with photography which dates back to the work of the early pioneers such as Hill and Adamson. This acquisition is akin to buying Scotland’s photographic album of 14,000 pictures and bringing it home, and together with the National Galleries of Scotland, we were determined to make that happen.”