Royal College of Physicians Museum presents its archives in a glowing new light

London photography exhibition ‘Unfamiliar’, at the Royal College of Physicians Museum (23 January – 28 July 2023), presents clinical tools as you’ve never seen them before

Historic clinical objects in abstract photographs, part of 'unfamiliar' exhibition at the royal college of physicians museum in london, by theo deproost
(Image credit: Photography: Theo Deproost)

Showing at the Royal College of Physicians Museum, London, from 23 January 2023, photography exhibition ‘Unfamiliar’ frames clinical objects from the museum’s archives in a compelling new light.

‘Unfamiliar’ at Royal College of Physicians Museum 

Photographer Theo Deproost’s take on the historic clinical tools carefully selected by physician associate Debbie Jegede brings art and science into one common realm, and places unlikely objects at the core of an exhibition. The photographs see snuff boxes, stethoscopes and items unidentifiable to the clinically uneducated eye suspended in an otherworldly cloud of colour and contrast. 

Clinical glass vessel with stoppers photographed in abstract way for 'unfamiliar' at the royal college of physicians museum in london, by theo deproost

(Image credit: Photography: Theo Deproost)

The original objects, from the museum’s clinical and fine art collections, are displayed alongside the images. As co-curators, Deproost and Jegede have ensured they ‘honour the historical significance of the objects whilst also transporting them to a realm beyond any specific time period’, says Deproost. In doing so they have created ‘a new, undefined space for the viewer to study and re-interpret the items’.

‘This exhibition presents something very different for the Royal College of Physicians Museum,’ says Lowri Jones, senior curator of the museum. Using the unfamiliarity of the items as an obvious starting point, Deproost’s photographic style introduces further layers of intrigue. 

Clinical glass vessel photographed in abstract way on purple background

(Image credit: Photography: Theo Deproost)

Jones considered the unique nature of the exhibition in comparison to previous shows at the museum, valuing the chance to be able ‘to bring together Debbie and Theo’s contrasting medical and artistic backgrounds’. She adds that the exhibition ‘demonstrates how effective collaborations between the arts and sciences can be’.

On where the show sits in relation to his other projects, Deproost says, ‘I have photographed museum collections before, but the collaborative contributions […] have added so much depth and clarity to the final outcome.’

'Unfamiliar' is showing from 23 January – 28 July 2023. A selection of works from the exhibition will also be available to view online.

Royal College of Physicians, 11 St Andrews Place, London, NW1 4LE

history.rcplondon.ac.uk (opens in new tab)

image from 'unfamiliar' at the royal college of physicians museum in london, by theo deproost

(Image credit: Photography: Theo Deproost)

Martha Elliott is the Junior Digital News Editor at Wallpaper*. After graduating from university she worked in arts-based behavioural therapy, then embarked on a career in journalism, joining Wallpaper* at the start of 2022. She reports on art, design and architecture, as well as covering regular news stories across all channels.

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