Photography and the Crisis of Ethnographic Display
The military world often appears self-contained, with its specific culture, distinctive uniforms, green vehicles and armoury of all sorts. The role of the army museum, then, is also one of public visibility and a space where these diverse military processes, operations and functions can be translated for the public. This chapter explores the ways in which photographs were used in this process of translation in the Dutch National Army Museum. The earliest Dutch military photographic series in the museum dates from 1863 to 1869 when officers from the Topographical Bureau of the Ministry of War initiated the publication of a nine-volume work Artillerie Materieel van het Koninklijke Nederlandsche Leger. The collections from the post-war periods are still growing, for instance from the decolonization periods in the Dutch Indies and Dutch New Guinea, the military peace-keeping operations in Lebanon, former Yugoslavia and Iraq, and the more recent support missions in Afghanistan.