The Amazing, Unstaged World Hiding Behind a Museum’s Closed Doors
Basement shark, 2011.
Elevator bear, 2011.
Fawn and fox, 2011.
Others might have been perturbed by the strange and somewhat grotesque scene, but it didn’t phase Pichler one bit. In fact, he was even more fascinated than before. He promptly contacted the director of the museum, who generously gave the photographer a tour of the museum’s behind-the-scenes premises.
As Pichler wandered through the maze of storage rooms, filled with priceless art and artifacts in unexpected and unusual locations, he knew his series, “Skeletons in the Closet,” was born.
Hallway painting, 2011.
Pichler was careful not to stage any of his photos, hoping to capture peculiar scenes just as they were when he discovered them. And it was no problem: The museum, with nearly 600 rooms, was filled with “countless” surprises: cavemen sitting on fancy couches, a shark lurking around a corner, and dozens of skulls against file cabinets. For the next four years, Pichler documented the strange still lifes of exhibits when they weren’t on display.
“There were plenty of surprising moments,” Pichler said. “Imagine standing in front of a storage room door—somewhere you’ve never been before. When your guide unlocks the door and switches on the light ... boom! You’re standing in front of 50 taxidermied animals, and they’re all standing shoulder to shoulder, staring at you with their glass eyes.”