Museums and digital photography

Cypriot bichrome pottery dish

Cypriot bichrome pottery dish

The development of digital photography has been a revolution for museums as it allows us to quickly and easily record what is in the collection. Gone are the days of choosing a small selection of objects to photograph, dictated by the restrictions of using a film with only 24 or 36 images, finding the funds to purchase the film and pay for processing, and waiting weeks for the photographs to arrive. Now we are only restricted by staffing time! We can photograph as many objects as we like, and each object can be photographed from a variety of angles to capture the shape and decoration of the object. Within minutes the images are on our computers for us to view, edit and make accessible to our audiences. 

Cypriot geometric ware pottery dish

Cypriot geometric ware pottery dish

Digital photography has revolutionised my work as a curator.  From my desktop I can ‘see’ objects – I can select objects for exhibitions or outreach  projects, find images to use for marketing, and can easily compare one object with another when undertaking research. By doing these tasks virtually from my desk I lessen the risk of damaging the objects by handling them in the stores – I don’t need to carry them, unpack and repack the objects. Of course you can never replace the real thing with photographs; objects are the reason that museums exist. But this technology can help museums to better look after their collections while making them accessible to everyone.

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