The Photobook Museum

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Since August a former industrial estate in Mulheim has been home to the world’s first ever Photobook Museum, a vast exhibition of ‘the central form of expression in photography: the photo book.’

Having originally been scheduled to end this week, yesterday the organisers announced that the museum will remain open for a further 10 days, presumably because of the great reception that it’s had.  

 On entering the museum the first thing that you notice is its size. Located in an enormous warehouse the sheer breadth of the exhibition warrants more than just one visit. Despite having been twice already, I  plan to go again next week.

The project’s tagline is ‘Away with show cases,’ a motto that encourages visitors to physically interact with traditionally untouchable artworks. With over 300 photobooks to be leafed-through, (only the most valuable are in display cases), it is impossible not to become involved.

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Whilst there are 25 exhibitions that address the varying format and content of photobooks from across the globe, there is also a display of current photobook prize-winners, as well as several famous guest photobook collections and a section that deals with ‘Photobook Studies.’ 

Aside from the main exhibition, as a ticket-holder you are entitled to attend a host of workshops, talks and guided tours that the museum has been laying on all summer. Another of the highlights is the museum’s bookshop that sells first-class photobooks at a third of their normal price. The Photobook Museum is a colossal project that has proved a ground-breaking success. One can only hope that it will find a more permanent venue for the future.

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With special thanks to Jan Höhe for the photographs.

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