chapter  6
16 Pages

Photography – museum: on posing, imageness and the punctum

The appointment of Roger Fenton in 1854 to be Photographer to the British Museum – the first ever official photographer to any museum – marked the official beginning of the ongoing interrelationship between photography and the museum. Ever since, museums have come to employ photography in two main ways: to record the objects of their own collections for archives and dissemination (i.e. catalogues) and to supply photographs of contextual locations and objects/ subjects not physically present in the museum. Elizabeth Edwards’ Raw Histories (2001) provides an enlightening in-depth critical analysis of the field, which includes a wealth of references to previous studies. Based on the notion of the polysemic nature of both photographs and objects, Edwards applies the idea of a social biography to both. Further, she also refers to a certain ‘merging’ (Edwards 2001: 63) of displays of objects and photographs.