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Photos from army museum

Hi friends,

last night I came back from a tour through Wales and a part of England. This country is full of Regimental and army museums. The only problem is, nearly everywhere it is forbitten to make photos.

The good thing is, they have a lot of cameras but just one screen. And the staff members were emloyed most of the time::)))

I've got the permission to make photos in some of the regimental museums but especially in Cardiff it was no chance to take any. A pity...

This brought me to an idea. I have a lot of photos from German and British museums to offer and I would like to know, if you can offer similar photos of other army-museums around the world. Maybe we can exchange CD's with photos from uniforms, equipement and paintings from army museums all over the world.

Of course just for private use and not to publish them anywhere!!


Photos in army museums

Dear Uwe

I used to be on the SW England Museums Council and this used to be my gripe whenever I talked to curators from military and regimental museums. Most of these museums were up until fairly recently part of the Armed forces but are now funded by the Dept for Culture Media Sport. The ban on photography is marginally tolerable if the web site and sales desk with affordable postcards make up for it. This is not so, as nearly all promote the visit as being the most important thing with a minimal web site and usually a general sales area in the museum not specific to the collection (pencils and bookmarks).
Two of the biggest military museums in my region (south west); the Tank Museum, Bovington and the Fleet Air Arm Museum , Yeovilton allow photography or certainly did on my last visit. The Keep at Dorchester which is the museum of the Devon and Dorsets does not allow photography. The major argument given was that it was a conservation issue. Another argument, one also used by the National Trust, is that you are able, if so disposed, to take photos of the security arrangements.
First is inaccurate - flash photography does not cause dramatic degradation of exhibits no more so than ambient tungsten light or daylight. It is brighter in lumens but only lasts a fraction of a second.
The second argument is absurd. To stand in a museum (or country house) taking flash photos of alarm housings, PIR transceivers is kind of drawing attention to yourself especially as you are probably doing this on CCTV or being watched by a steward. IRA terrorism of some years ago meant that British military museums were considered as legitimate targets so there was some need for sensitivity and vigilence. There still is. Banning photography does not really fit into that. A more up to date surveillance system (discreet cameras) and trained staff is to my mind a better option. A lot of older systems don't record.

Occasionally a stipulation of a bequest or gift to a museum is that the benefactor still retains rights of reproduction and a museum's policy (acquisitions, disposals) document may reflect those issues.

A web site would be best as the costs of postage would vary. There are several web sites for tanks, aircraft, trains etc which offer the exchange you are writing about. and offer space for photos. I did a search for " military uniforms" on flickr and I came up with a pic of a Russian Crimean uniform which I haven't seen anywhere else . Some of the albums on flickr are quite extensive.


hi Dave,looking at another thread below,and with your sw Uk museum expertise(HMS Victory ,Admiral Nelsons flagship at Battle of Trafalgar 1805 for those unaware) is preserved and berthed at Portsmouth)

My qquestion is, can you confirm whether Captain(?)Lieutenant(?) Hardy(of kiss me hardy fame) was a Royal Marines Officer(red jacket) and not a Matelot officer(Royal Navy/bluejacket).Or perhaps he was a surgeon on board OR aide de camp from the London admiralty.

That must have been a very interesting job you had with all the history attached, you must have had access to original maritime documents and blue papers books records A history bookworms dream having had a job like that.Sounds like you really enjoyed that job.

Capt Thomas Hardy

Dear Hank

By the way Portsmouth is sadly out of our region. The eastern border is Bournemouth. Nevertheless both famous Thomas Hardys (the other being the author) were born in Dorset which is in the region.

Thomas Masterman Hardy was born in Portesham,Dorset in 1769. His monument stands near the village which is between Bridport and Weymouth and is about 2 or 3 miles inland from the coast. His maternal grandfather was Thomas Masterman hence the unusual second name. He entered the Navy in 1781

On the Victory he was Nelson's flag captain and commander of the ship. Captain is a high rank in the Royal Navy and can cover a number of roles. In the 1820s he was indeed a Royal Marine Colonel (Royal Marines have army ranks) and there may be portraits of him in later life in a red jacket. He soon returned as a RN Rear Admiral in 1825. In 1816 he fought a duel with Lord Buckingham and the surrounding scandal seemed to slow his career down as posts such as First Sea Lord ( which he became in 1830) were very much in the public eye.
As far as the RN goes he was very much a master and commander as you say a matelot or a son of the sea.

Re - historians dream or like a boy in a sweet shop.

A lot of the professional documentation was in the form of government papers rather than historical records . If we had a conference or agm at a museum, the visit was squeezed in at the end of the day. One of the big issues was public access which has improved tremendously over the last 10 years. The Public Record Office, for example, has done a lot on making military service records accessible. Unfortunately regimental museums tend to be a bit stuck in their ways but they are also custodians of service men and women's past almost like war memorials so the role is a bit complicated. For instance the regimental colours were/are often kept there and the reunions and dinners took/take place in the regimental museum. I certainly got to know the bulk of what was in the SW region but as always there is a lot left to discover.

Re: Capt Thomas Hardy

Thanks Dave ,I appreciate your information and thansk for sharing it with us all.You sure had a job one would die for.hope your current job is as wishes Hank

Re: Photos in army museums

Hi David,

the problem is, that in case you can get postcards in the museum shops, it is usually one about a painting I already have in my collection or some of the very good Brian Fosten paintings. Beside this, sometimes you can get a museum guide with some of the uniforms.

But what is important for me, are details. And this you can't get until you make the photos yourself. Plates from Shakos, weapons. Some of the smaller paintings, etc... Sometimes, when you can talk to the curator of the museum, you will get the allowance.

I have this problem with the photos only in the UK. IN Germany, Austria, France and Belgium it was never a problem to make photos in the past.

The webpages you mentioned are interesting, but as usual it is just an overview. As there are a lot of interesting museums all over the world, which I will never see (I fear), I thought it an interesting idea to exchange some photos. For example a friend of mine had his honeymoon in Cuba and visited the army museum there. A lot of interesting Spanish and Cuban uniforms from the wars of 1880-1900. Another friend brought photos from Japan, they have a lot of interesting stuff too.

There is a museum in Bulgaria about the battle of Plevna with the Panorama painting and uniforms from this war. Some you can see on their webpage. I contacted them, asking for more information. I would have paid them for some photos, booklets, postcards etc. But sadly I've got no answer.

Because of all this I thought it a good idea to exchange photos with freaks all over the world, who have not the chance to visit places in my area, but have photos of their own museums.


artwork and sharing

Dear Uwe
I understand your point. Indeed I have written on the subject of adult users of museums. Sometimes guide books are not done with the enthusiast in mind and are very superficial.

Your idea of a sharing exchange is a great idea.

This museum ( regts of Wiltshire) has a good on line collection but the images are low res.

(eg a photo of sun goggles as worn in the Boer War with blue lenses)

It shows what could be done by a museum as a proper learning resource. Low res was the norm before broadband.

The National Army Museum promises more on line archives at the moment their site is just a glorified advert like many of the other regt museums.

Les Invalides

I absolutely agree. I visited Les Invalides recently. They have a stunning collection, but do not allow photography. That would be fine if they offered images of their exhibits - postcards, books, prints - anything, but no. Another fantastic resource that is going to waste.

Re: Les Invalides

When I visited the museum years ago they had quite a lot to offer in their Museum shop (called "Boutique" in French). Have you actually been there?

I suggest you console yourself with this:


Re: Re: Les Invalides


Yes, I went to the shop, and they had a great stock of books and other items - I bought several. However they had nothing specifically about their own collection apart from a very small book highlighting just 100 items, which doesn't scratch the surface of what they have. Since I cant draw I had no way of recording all the marvelous things I saw there, which was a great disappointment.

Well worth a visit, but be prepared to commit a lot to memory!

Re: Les Invalides

Last time I was there I could take photos without flash, which is no problem.

Re: Re: Les Invalides

In 2003 I could take photos without a problem. Is this interdiction new?

Re: Re: Re: Les Invalides

Dont know if it is new. I went in 2004 and a staff member stopped me from taking photos with flash. The displays are too dark without flash so that was that!

Re: Re: Re: Re: Les Invalides

On summer 2005, I could take many photographs without flash, I used 400 or 800 ASA films (don't remember) on purpose, and all of them came out perfect.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Les Invalides

Yes take 800 or 1200 Asa, or take an electronical camera, even better.

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Les Invalides

Hi guys

My camera is digital, and while it has a lot of settings I dont know what most of them do . You are right - I should take the time to learn how to take pictures in poor light conditions. Excuse enough for another trip to Paris

Les Invalides and other museums

A big part of the problem is that many museums really aren't set up to shoot well. Often times you can't back up far enough to get everything into the picture (or you have to back up too far and get something else in the way) unless you have the right lens. Also exhibits behind glass frequently have too much glare. And of course sometimes the exhibits are displayed in a way that is is difficult to get unobstructed shots. IIRC (its been a couple of decades), my problem at Les Invalides was that the flags were hung too close together to photograph individual ones. With CD technology it ought to be possible for museums to sell photos of their complete collections at relatively little cost to themselves.

Re: Les Invalides and other museums

It should be - but sometimes I have the feeling that here in Europe most staff is just there not to be helpfull but just wait for their pension.