Photographing Museum Exhibits as Modern Still Lifes

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Guided TourPhotography by Kevin Tadge

Kevin Tadge's Guided Tour series is an alternative view of artefacts and exhibits that are housed in museums across the globe

“I stumbled upon the idea that I could shoot museum exhibits and displays – which I’ve always loved – and transform them into something that mimicked that still life aesthetic,” says photographer Kevin Tadge of his series Guided Tour. Ongoing since 2013, the series sees Tadge photograph artefacts housed in museums around the world, offering an alternative viewpoint on myriad fascinating exhibits. Guided Tour is a meta, indirect way of viewing these pieces yourself, sometimes more closely and in greater detail than might be possible were they simply inside a glass case. “Museum exhibits are always a kind of balance between design and the need to impart real information,” explains Tadge. “That was always really interesting to me, especially since it so often results in weird visual moments, that are weirder still once the images are removed from their context.” This lack of context that Tadge seems to delight in is an important aspect of the series, leaving it up to the viewer to wonder about the nature of the exhibits.

The scope of Guided Tour is vast; when prompted, Tadge offers an impressive list of institutions included in the series. “Some of my favorite museums for this project have been the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the British Museum, the V&A, the Melbourne Museum, Madrid’s Museo Geominero, the Museo Historia de Cataluñia in Barcelona, and the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo.” Tadge is hoping for people to look twice at his intriguing and irreverent images, and to see them as pieces to marvel at in and of themselves. “The goal for me with each of them is to make an image that seems real at least at a cursory glance,” he explains. “But hopefully if you look a little longer, you start to notice that things are actually a bit off. I’ve tried to let the seams show in places – sometimes more blatantly than others – but they all have something going on, something that separates them from the original thing.” Guided Tour certainly makes for unexpectedly uplifting Monday viewing.