Objects Under the Lens- Dorling Kindersley Visit

An update about some of the work we are currently doing at The University of Aberdeen Collections Centre blog by Hannah Clarke, Museums Galleries Scotland Intern:

We have recently been working on a project alongside the publishing company Dorling Kindersley. The company is currently working to photograph objects from different museum collections, to illustrate a new book which will be published this year. They chose Aberdeen University Museum’s collections, for our diversity of objects from different continents and disciplines.

As my internship is based on collections care and documentation, this was an ideal opportunity for me to work as an object handler and to assist Dorling Kindersley to find information from our database records about the objects they were photographing.

Each object posed a different problem for the photographer when it came to getting the correct lighting. We had a range of objects, not only in size, but also in texture, material and form. We worked together to decide what order we could photograph objects in, to try to minimise having to change the current lighting set ups.

Hannah DK

Hannah setting up an object for Dorling Kindersley photographers

Every day I learnt new information about the individual objects, through both the museum’s records, as well as through the photography process. New details emerged through the photography, which had previously gone unnoticed. Information about the manufacture or use of the object was brought to life through these beautiful images.

As an example, we have some wonderfully depictive examples of African Asante weights, made from brass and used to weigh gold dust. These were cast by hand and usually depicted figures or scenes from folk tales. They are very small, yet intricately detailed, most with expressive faces and depicted in traditional clothing. I have become very interested in these tiny objects, and have chosen to begin a project to document them individually and improve their database records.

Asante weights

African Asante Weights: Left ABDUA 7220, Rights ABDUA 7199

In total we spent four days photographing and documenting the objects which had been chosen by the company on a previous visit to our galleries and stores at Marischal. It was lovely to see that as the days progressed, more of our objects caught the eye of the Dorling Kindersley team, so much so, that they have requested to come back shortly to photograph these too!

It’s great to know that our rich and diverse objects held at the Collections Centre can be seen by the public through Dorling Kindersley’s new book.


About uoamuseums

The University of Aberdeen's Museums include King’s Museum and the University's Zoology Museum. The museums can claim to be Scotland's oldest, with records of museums and collections as far back as the late 17th century. Thanks to their status as a Recognised Collection of national significance, the Zoology Museum’s displays are currently being improved, while King's Museum hosts changing exhibitions drawn from across the collections, particularly those formerly in Marischal Museum. Visitors are warmly welcomed to the museums, and there are no charges for admission. Marischal College now houses the Museums Collections Centre, caring for and conserving many of the collections.
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