INSTITUTE FOR THE HARMONIOUS DEVELOPMENT OF ART AND PHOTOGRAPHY

The Strangelove Collection

The Strangelove Collection focuses on original vintage photographs of nuclear research, the development of the atomic bomb and early rocketry in the U.S. All three fields are scientifically and historically very much interconnected.

Due to the transformation of the old physical archives into digital archives, these photographs have become available. A process which has dramatically stirred up the meaning and value of the photographic paper print. At the height of the reorganization, entire newspaper archives were given away free of charge to companies who promised to scan the images, add metadata and prepare them for digital licensing. Some archives were just plundered and the most iconic images were sold.

As a result, an incredible multitude of images ended up on secondary markets, many of them sold before the art market realized the true value of the vintage prints.

Verso of an iconic Hiroshima photograph by George Silk for Time-Life Magazin.
Vintage ferrotyped gelatin silver print. 20 x 25 cm .
Authentic press clipping glued to the backside,
date and agency stamps, handwriting. Printed 1945


The collection includes original vintage photographs from the 1940s to the early 1970s, portraying the development of the atomic bomb, the unfolding of the cold war, the space race, the childish enthusiasm, and the scientific innocence of the atomic age.
After ten years of collecting, our archive contains some very unique photographs.

A brief Introduction into the collection




Strangelove Collection #289
File N0. 6781-1 U.S.
Atomic Energy Commission, Isotopes Division. Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Vintage ferrotyped gelatin silver print. 20 x 25 cm .
Stamped on back. Retouched by ballpoint pen. Printed 1954

Strangelove Collection #0685
A disturbing photograph taken a few days after the Able atomic test on Bikini island.⁣ Juda, Chief of the Bikinians, who gave his island to the US Army for “the good of mankind and to end all world wars” is viewing his first motion picture aboard the USS Sumner. ⁣They dressed him in military clothes and started to call him King Juda. ⁣

Vintage gelatin silver print on fibre-based paper. 20,3 x 25,4 cm. Handwritten caption on the verso. Printed 1946⁣

Strangelove Collection #0708
Titan, intercontinental nuclear missile. Rocket engine test at Edwards Air Force Base.

Vintage chromogenic print on fibre-based paper, backprinting “A Kodak Paper”. 20,3 x 25,4cm
Verso: stamped credit and identification number.
Printed 1962

Strangelove Collection #0634
Operation Cue. Child manikin in lean-to basement shelter of a 2-story brick
house at 4700 feet fared better than manikin outside shelter.

Vintage ferrotyped gelatin silver print. 20 x 25 cm .
Verso: FCDA identification number and explanatory caption in purple ink.
Federal Civil Defence Agency. Printed 1955

Strangelove Collection #0385
Radioactive areas can be seen through glasses demonstrated by Dr. E.
Emilenz. A telescope-like lens is equipped with a screen that reacts to gamma rays, revealing dangerous areas.

Vintage ferrotyped gelatin silver print. 20 x 25 cm .
Charming traces of retouching on recto.
Stamped and glued on tearsheet on verso. 
Printed 1954

Strangelove Collection #0404
Operation Upshot-Knothole. Test shot “Harry”
The image was taken with an ultra-high speed “Rapatronic” camera, designed in the 1950s by Edgerton and his colleagues at “EG&G” (Edgerton, Gremeshausen, & Grier).

Vintage ferrotyped gelatin silver print. 20 x 25 cm .
Recto: Atomic Energy Commission identification number.
Verso: Explanatory caption in purple ink.
Credit: EG&G. Printed 1953

Strangelove Collection #0478
Operation Plumbbob. Test shot “Whitney”
The fireball of the 22nd full-scale nuclear test of Operation Plumbbob lights
the pre-dawn darkness of Yucca Flat. Whitney, code-name for the event, was detonated from a 500-foot tower at 5:30 a.m.

Vintage ferrotyped gelatin silver print. 20 x 25 cm .
Recto: Atomic Energy Commission identification number.
Verso: Explanatory caption in purple ink.
Lookout Mountain Laboratory, USAF. Printed 1957

Strangelove Collection #0253
A remote control apparatus developed for use with extremly high levels of activity. A.E.C. Isotopes Division.

Vintage ferrotyped gelatin silver print. 20 x 25 cm . Stamped on back.
Printed 1948

Strangelove Collection #1225
Operation Upshot-Knothole. Test shot “Grable”
The first test of a nuclear artillery shell (Grable for “gun”) for a nominal range of 32 km.

Color print on high gloss white Ansco safety film.
20,3 x 25,4cm
Handwritten serial number on verso.
Provenance: Former employee of Lookout Mountain Laboratory, California.
Printed in 1953.

Strangelove Collection #1125
Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA)
NASA plans for NERVA included a visit to Mars by 1978 and a permanent
lunar base by 1981.

Vintage gelatin silver print on fibre-based paper.
Airbrushed photograph.
20,3 x 25,4 cm.
Printed and retouched 1962.

Strangelove Collection #0705
Ariel 1, first british satellite, was among several satellites inadvertently damaged or destroyed by the Starfish Prime high-altitude nuclear test on July 9, 1962, and subsequent radiation belt. It decayed from orbit on 24 April 1976.

Vintage chromogenic print on fibre-based paper, stamped captions on verso, backprinting “A Kodak Paper”. 20,3 x 25,4cm
Printed 1962



Strangelove Collection #0014
Outfit for Halloween.

Vintage gelatin silver print on fibre-based paper.
20,3 x 25,4 cm.
Stamped and glued on caption on the verso. Printed 1958

Diving deeper into the collection




New Evidence

The Strangelove Collection at Concertgebeauw Brugge 2019

Nucleus

The Strangelove Collection at the Noorderlicht Photofestival 2017.

Strange worlds

The Strangelove Collection at Albert van Abbehuis gallery 2017.

Project Gnome

Nuclear test site of the Gnome Project.