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Inside out: Klaus Pichler’s unseen worlds

“It started by coincidence. There is a park near the Museum of Natural History in Vienna, which was closed for ages. One night, when I was passing by, I noticed that it had reopened and I was finally able to look into the museum’s windows after hours,” remembers Klaus Pichler. “One of the rooms was illuminated and the scene inside was very strange. It was a normal office, but there was a life-sized stuffed antelope in one corner.” Instantly intrigued by the absurd display before him, the Austrian photographer contacted the institution who invited him for a tour of the museum’s back rooms.

Over the next three years, Pichler returned to the museum once or twice a month to explore the hidden spaces of its collections, offices and scientific departments. The photographer discovered room after room of exhibits in storage, arranged following a strict scientific classification system. It was, however, the chance still lifes, emerging out of these otherwise rigidly organised areas, which captured his attention. With the museum’s back rooms constantly in flux, as objects moved between exhibits or were rearranged to save space, comical, even life-like, arrangements materialised.

Words: Hannah Abel-Hirsch

Throughout the Austria: The Art of Discovery submission period, Studio 1854 wrote a series of editorials profiling photographers living and working in the country. Klaus Pichler discussed his project Skeletons in the Closet, for which the photographer spent three years exploring the hidden spaces and back rooms of the Museum of Natural History in Vienna.

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