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Huge camera collection goes on display

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Dozens of cameras collected by an enthusiast have been used to create a display to show how photographic technology has evolved.

Collection owner Dieter Wälzholz said he wanted to share his hobby with a wider audience and found a home for his cameras at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art.

He said the focus during more than 30 years of building the collection was equipment that was the first of its kind.

Mr Wälzholz, 83, explained: “What interested me particularly was the technical development of the cameras. I tried to buy cameras and accessories that had something for the very first time.

“It didn't have to be an expensive camera, very often the idea came from very small manufacturers. Sometimes you find those cameras for $20 and the next time you buy them for $100.”

He added: “I found it far more interesting than buying a certain expensive brand because this is the expression of human creativity in the technical sense.”

He estimated that he had given more than 90 cameras to Masterworks, but more have since been bought and the number is expected to rise. Mr Wälzholz said the collection had outgrown the Pembroke home he shared with Jennifer, his wife of 47 years.

He added: “I couldn't display them, I was the only one who could look at them and see anything of them and I thought it was a bit of a waste.”

Mr Wälzholz and Tom Butterfield, the Masterworks founder and creative director, talked about the cameras and Mr Wälzholz agreed to hand them over to the Paget museum on the condition that the collection would not be sold or split up in his lifetime.

A showcase beside the museum's entrance includes examples of the first Polaroid cameras and the first disposable cameras, both from 1948. The earliest camera in the display is thought to be from about 1907. Mr Wälzholz said he hoped the collection was “just the beginning” and that more cameras would be added.

Mr Butterfield added it was important for the museum to find “more creative” ways to use its galleries. He said: “It is wonderful that a couple have been so generous to pass on what's essentially their life's work for other generations to enjoy.”

Mr Butterfield added: “The idea of keeping it intact is exactly in line with what we are all about so future generations really do have something to inherit. It's really as significant as it gets as it's really about passion.”

Just the beginning: Dieter and Jennifer Wälzholz have donated a collection of cameras to Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art (Photograph by Fiona McWhirter)
Capturing the moment: some of Dieter Wälzholz's cameras on display at Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art in Paget
Cameras exhibit at Masterworks: Tom Butterfield, left (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Cameras exhibit at Masterworks (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Cameras exhibit at Masterworks: Tristan Tucker (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 08, 2019 at 9:00 am (Updated May 08, 2019 at 8:25 am)

Huge camera collection goes on display

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