Although biochemically patterned hydrogels are capable of recapitulating many critical aspects of the heterogeneous cellular niche, exercising spatial and temporal control of the presentation and removal of biomolecular signalling cues in such systems has proved difficult. Here, we demonstrate a synthetic strategy that exploits two bioorthogonal photochemistries to achieve reversible immobilization of bioactive full-length proteins with good spatial and temporal control within synthetic, cell-laden biomimetic scaffolds. A photodeprotection-oxime-ligation sequence permits user-defined quantities of proteins to be anchored within distinct subvolumes of a three-dimensional matrix, and an ortho-nitrobenzyl ester photoscission reaction facilitates subsequent protein removal. By using this approach to pattern the presentation of the extracellular matrix protein vitronectin, we accomplished reversible differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells to osteoblasts in a spatially defined manner. Our protein-patterning approach should provide further avenues to probe and direct changes in cell physiology in response to dynamic biochemical signalling.