Go back to article: Private portraits or suffering on stage: curating clinical photographic collections in the museum context

Abstract

Medical photography collections often remind us of the inescapable reality of human suffering and pain, and at the same time they oblige us to deal with questions of ownership and privacy. Medical photography collections are thus considered ‘sensitive’ collections within the museum context. This essay investigates privacy issues involved in the curating of historical photographic collections in museum spaces. When medical photography entered into non-medical domains privacy issues emerged. It is these privacy issues that cast a shadow of sensitivity on the medical material. But the relationship between clinical photograph collections and museums is not as straightforward as it may seem. Personal pictures involve power and privacy, and both aspects play a role in the public display of historical medical photographs, often in unexpected ways.

Component DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15180/160503/001