“My work generally tries to show a funny side to our everyday life,” says Norwegian photographer Helge Skodvin, whose latest series A Moveable Beast follows a collection of animal exhibits moving house.
The series started when Skodvin was on assignment at the Natural History Museum in Bergen, Norway. He explains how one day, the manager told him that the museum would be closing for five years to make way for essential maintenance work. The impending closure of the museum came as a shock to Skodvin, considering he lives 200 meters from the museum and hadn’t heard anything of the news. But he soon saw a perfect opportunity for a new project.
As part of the preparations, all the animals from the museum’s collections had to be moved across to a new temporary storage facility on the other side of town in the fall of 2013. This meant that some of the animals emerged from their display cases for the first time in almost 150 years. “Not a simple task when the animals are big and fragile,” says Skodvin.
“The Natural History Museum is a magic place in Bergen,” explains the photographer. “My grandparents told me about when they visited the place when they were kids. My parents did the same. I went there a lot when I was a boy, and some of my children have been lucky enough to see it before it closed.”
In the images, Skodvin shares some of the Bergen magic; the animals appearing to come to life for a flash of a second. While in their individual frames they look staged, Skodvin says he did not arrange the animals. “The reason some of them look quite funny and strange, is because they have been taken care of by the restorers and conservators to ensure that the animals are safe during transit.”
All images © Helge Skodvin/Moment/INSTITUTE