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From Vision Machines to Instagram

From Vision Machines to Instagram

Agnete Brun, Jørgen Skavlan, 2010. Property of Preus museum collection.

From 25.01.15
To 31.08.16

The museum offers both obscure objects to recount unusual histories, and well-known icons from the history of photography.  Join us on an exciting journey all the way from pre-photographic periods via vision machines that were used for entertainment, to our contemporary image-sharing culture.

Many exhibitions have been produced since the museum was founded in 1995. Nevertheless large portions of the collection have not been shown, and the 20th anniversary celebration offers the museum a golden opportunity to bring forth numerous and little-known objects to tell additional and varied stories .


Photography's official year of inception is 1839, but the period before photography also involved "training" people to become subjective observers. The museum's large collection of "vision machines" (for example zoetropes, stereoscopes, kaleidoscopes, anamorphoscopes, and shadow theaters) provide enjoyable and exciting aha-experiences up to the present!


Animation of Eadweard Muybridge's photographs (below).

Eadweard Muybridge, Animal Locomotion, Plate 465, 1887. Property of Preus museum collections.

The museum has an international collection that shows most processes and areas of usage all the way from the outset in 1839—as well as some "blind alleys" and pre-photographic technology. This creates the opportunity to present an interesting history of photography that provides a "three-dimensional" portrait of technology, culture, and art in a way rarely seen previously.


Today we are surrounded by more images than ever. Precisely for that reason we need to strenghten awareness of what a photograph is and can be. There are innumerable stories of the meaning of photography in most fields, and these stories are important to bring forward.

Exhibition curators:

Hanne Holm-Johnsen

Hege Oulie


A new photographer from the collection will be presented each month on a wall in the exhibition space "Wall of Fame," which enables one to explore deeply the work of individual photographers. These photographers are as follows:


  •     February:  Early English (Hill, Adamson, and Cameron)
  •     March:  Marcus Selmer (1819-1900)                                            
  •     April:  Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916)                                        
  •     May: Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952)                                            
  •     June:  Anders Beer Wilse (1865-1949)                                            
  •     July:  Edward Steichen (1879-1973)                                  
  •     August:  Carl Strüwe (1898-1986)                                                      
  •     September/october:  Lotte Jacobi (1896-1990)                                                                                              
  •     November:  Sigurd Fandango (f. 1986)                                  
  •     December:  Tom Sandberg (1953-2014)

 Wall of Fame 2016

Varied programs and seminars will take the collection as a starting point and reveal its great breadth and the possibility of telling a multitude of interwoven stories. Those accounts articulate the history of photography as well as the development of modern society and the individualistic modern human being who observes through the collection's sense machines and pre-photographic equipment. The programs will be announced here.


In August the museum will publish a wide-ranging anniversary volume about the collection with  contributions from approximately twenty external writers. The volume will be published by Press Forlag with design by the noted Rune Døli of the firm Modest, who also designed the prize-winning volume Elizabeth Meyer—Reports from the World 1920-1950 for the Preus Museum.

Carleton E. Watkins, The Three Brothers, 1878 – 1881. Property of Preus museum collection.
William Henry Fox Talbot, Copied from Nature by Light, 1839. Property of Preus museum collection.
Vito Acconci, Conversions II, 1971. Property of Preus museum collection.
Lotte Jacobi, Niura Norskaya, 1929. Property of Preus museum collection.
Sebastião Salgado, Oil Wells, Kuwait, 1991. Property of Preus museum collection.
Philippe Halsman, Marilyn Monroe, Los Angeles, 1952. Property of Preus museum collection.
Eadweard Muybridge, From the series Animal Locomotion, Plate 465, 1886 – 1887. Property of Preus museum collection.
Paul Hesse, Advertising photo for Chesterfield cigarettes, ca 1950 - 1960. Property of Preus museum collection.
Tom Sandberg, Portrait Maria, 2002. Property of Preus museum collection.
Dmitri Baltermans, Grief, 1941. Property of Preus museum collection.