Nothing is just black and white. Some animals have a representation or vision of images in black and white. Just like in computing full color modes or high resolutions use more power of chips and memory. In short colors are computationally costly. For our brains this is unfortunately just as important. Therefore black and white images have a certain advantage. On the one hand they reduce an image to its essential elements, on the other hand they allow a faster grasp of the message or content at sight.
The BNF presents a wide range of images in black and white from the time that color photography has been available, but photographers consciously chose to represent their image in black and white (1907-). Obviously with black and white photography we maximize contrasts. An image can be converted into a graphical representation like a black and white pencil sketch or drawing. A few more nuances are introduced in applying perspectives to capture or to produce by use of lighting forefronts and shadows.
Using different materials as support of photography allows us additional creativity and stunning effects. Lighting from behind the image is popular in advertisements on our high-streets. Last but not least using techniques of color photography gave rise in modern black and white photography to allow for chromatic transitions and contrasts within images.
All this is well documented in the exposition and ample examples make it a formidable visual learning experience. From the origins of just black and white we have come around to the fabulous and magical in black and white. In reducing to black and white the essential becomes more visible. The superfluous is blackened or whitened out. It is a skill of importance nowadays to focus on essentials and to find new ways to go beyond the obvious shot.