Wundercamera – Photographs Offer A New Perspective On Museums

We’ve all been to museums to view famous artworks and artefacts and we may have even taken some pictures, but have we been missing something? This exhibition explores the idea that the way visitors interact with exhibits, and how museum items interact with each other, makes for some fantastically composed photographs.

A rhinoceros in a vitrine in the corner of a room looks lonely when all the lights are dimmed, and a store room full of taxidermy specimens and skulls looks at the items the visiting public don’t get to see. Elsewhere, Karen Knorr has placed a stuffed monkey in front of a human skeleton and a classical statue to highlight both the evolution of man and art.

Some of the photographers remove any hint of these items being in a museum, such as Hiroshi Sugimoto’s black and white photos from Madame Tussaud’s chamber of horrors which look frighteningly realistic, or Karl Grimes who tries to bring the natural dioramas of the American Museum of Natural History to life.

The best photographs however are those of visitors interacting with the exhibits themselves. Traer Scott catches reflections in a glass case so that it appears a grizzly bear is towering over a group of school children, and a tiger is stalking an apparently unaware child. Our favourites are Matt Stuart’s photographs of Tate Modern as two embracing friends appear in front of The Kiss and a lone toddler is dwarfed by Louise Bourgeoise’s giant spider towering above her.

It would have been great if they had included Thomas Struth’s Museum Photographs, but even without them this is an interesting and often humorous take on photography that we enjoyed.

Wundercamera is on at PM Gallery & House, Walpole Park, Mattock Lane, W5 5EQ until 11 January. Admission is free.

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