The museum bits you don't get to see so often
February 25, 2010 6:28 AM   Subscribe

The Vault - Fascinating photography from the storerooms at various NZ museums, archives and libraries, by Neil Pardington. Including mammals, birds and card catalogues.

A short explanation of the project from the photographer.

Slightly larger images are available here.
posted by patricio (8 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Very nice. Thanks patricio.

But do they have the works of Kate Clark? Combining irreverent wit with shocking creatures, "We connect to Clark’s work on a primitive level: humans are derived from animalistic ferocity, yet like her sculptures we exist behind a mask of docile subordination—we are the sophisticated monster, we are the civilized wild."
posted by netbros at 6:39 AM on February 25, 2010


Random related anecdote:

My dad in his working days was an ornithologist. While working on his Ph.D. in the 1950s at the University of Kansas, he worked at the museum in Lawrence.

In the 1980s, we were in town and I got a behind the scenes tour as a 13 year old...I pulled a random drawer open while I was back there and it was chock full of Carolina Parakeet specimens. I still remember feeling the hair stand up on the back of my neck when I realized the tags all read from 1902 or so, just two years before its extinction in the wild. (note: the museum had nothing to do with the species' imminent demise, and you shouldn't think so either; this was just a memorable moment I felt like sharing, and the links above reminded me of it)
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:46 AM on February 25, 2010


man i clicked on the card catalogue link expecting some sort porn like shots...you know, close ups of the drawers halfway open, photos of some of the cards.

but nope, just a big distance picture.

anyways, still cool.
posted by sio42 at 7:15 AM on February 25, 2010


Projects like this always make me wonder if we are slowly going to replace objects with digital files.

From the artist statement:

This idea of the camera being a storehouse of ideas and images (or as Kodak would have it, memories) is central to ‘The Vault’. In a somewhat reflexive manner, this series focuses on the places we store those things that are most precious to us, and conversely those very similar spaces we store the obsolete and unwanted. In the process of making the work I have visited archives, museums, art galleries, banks and libraries.

Certainly his shots are more artistic than documentary, otherwise it would be thousands of photos of small objects. But at point do we just photograph a Carolina Parakeet and throw out the specimens? These things take up space, and require a great deal of care and upkeep to store. When it becomes too expensive to take care of books, and the world's library fits into a small computer, are we going to throw out all the books?
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 7:32 AM on February 25, 2010


man i clicked on the card catalogue link expecting some sort porn like shots

Ooh yeah baby, show me your tracings! Yeah, you like that steel rod, don't you? C'mon, give me a little "See also"!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:07 AM on February 25, 2010


Fascinating!!! a card catalog!!!!
posted by tomas316 at 10:03 AM on February 25, 2010


"But at point do we just photograph a Carolina Parakeet and throw out the specimens? These things take up space, and require a great deal of care and upkeep to store. When it becomes too expensive to take care of books, and the world's library fits into a small computer, are we going to throw out all the books?"

I sure hope not. Remember, an image or data file is still just an abstraction that can never contain the same information content as the object itself. For example, those Carolina Parakeets all have DNA that might be reconstructed and studied by some future researcher. Or someone might study the heavy metal content in their feathers, or who knows what. And it's the same for books, or all the strange items stored away in museum back rooms. We can never predict what may be of value to future people.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:27 AM on February 25, 2010


Oh, and on somewhat the same subject, one thing that bothers me about our information age is the way the memory hole devours old programs, leaving no trace of what was once ubiquitous. It's too bad there's there isn't the equivalent of a dusty museum back room out there somewhere for software and operating systems, so scholars one hundred years from now can study things like MS-DOS and Wordperfect. But you can't even take photographs of deleted data, so the future people will just have to guess what they were like.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:33 PM on February 25, 2010


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