I frequent museums regularly and have learnt what can and can’t make a museum work; they have done a good job at the tank museum. The museum was well organised and laid out. Most of the exhibits were well labelled and easy to find, this was made even easier by the small platoon of volunteer/guides (almost exclusively retired men with a tanky glint in their eye!), who helped me locate a few exhibits I couldn’t find. The size and scale of the place is not to be underestimated, those tanks are big beasts and there are a lot of them!
The main challenge with taking photos is indeed the spacing between the exhibits, which means one inevitably gets other exhibits and signage in the shot. I didn’t have too many problems with the lighting, but it was a nice sunny day, which was useful when it streamed through the warehouse skylights. I did have to keep switching between using natural and artificial light for the photos. I am only an amateur photographer, with no formal training, which may have actually helped. It is my opinion that you can only take a photo of what is in front of you, in the conditions available. I don’t see any of my pictures making it to ‘photo of the month‘, but I feel it is possible to document most of the tank museum exhibits with some degree of success if you aren’t too fussy about the odd wheel or turret either side of your subject.
Notable exceptions include some of their cornerstone exhibits, which the museum has rewarded with a diorama or special setting. These include Little Willie, which is on a revolving pedestal surrounded by perspex (I’m not making it up!); their Mark I tank, which is splattered with mud as part of a WWI trench diorama; and other key WWI exhibits. I will try to detail this on the Wikimedia page as I go through my photos.
Also worth mentioning is that the museum was very much a live museum, there are several large warehouses and workshops, one of which has a public viewing gallery. While these setting aren’t ideal for shooting exhibits, I saw several tanks being shunted around or driven about as they reorganised and I feel a more local Wiki-photographer might be able to take advantage of this. I didn’t make any effort to meet any curator or management. Maybe an initial chat with them, with the right tone might yield some good photos of exhibits that are being moved and maintained (the machine and mechanics that maintain them are as impressive as the exhibits themselves).
Thanks again to Wikimedia UK and the Tank Museum for the opportunity, I’m looking forward to finishing the processing and uploading of to my photos and improving the content of the Wikimedia projects.