Strangelove Collection

is a private archive of original vintage photographs of nuclear research, the atomic bomb, and rocketry.

  1. Exhibition at the Concertgebouw Brugge, Belgium.
    Installation of Apollo NASA photographs.

  2. About the collection

    Over the past years, Peter Voigt, a photographer, has amassed over 3000 pho­tographs related to the de­vel­op­ment of the atomic bomb, the space race, and the evolution of the Cold War. He has fittingly called this assemblage The Strangelove Col­lec­tion. It is made up of original vintage prints, taken between the 1940s and 1970s, served with a side of wry humour in each of the cap­tions he shares on the collection’s Instagram feed.

  3. The Photographer

    "Broken Arrow" Site
    Mars Bluff, South Carolina

  4. Why did you begin collecting images of nuclear history?

    Around 2008, I worked on a personal project photographing decommissioned nuclear missiles at the White Sands Missile Base and in several military museums across the United States. These photographs ended up being exhibited at the Noorderlicht photo festival in Groningen. The festival included “Multivocal Histories” an exhibit curated by Bas Vroege, in which photographers not only used their work but also drew on other sources including texts and images by third parties. I liked that idea, and I began collecting historic photographs with the intention to combine them with my own images. Since then, the collection has grown into an independent project.

  5. Exhibition at the Concertgebouw Brugge, Belgium.
    Installation New Evidence

  6. Exhibition at the Concertgebouw Brugge, Belgium.
    Installation Nuclear Testing

  7. What kind of imagery can be found in the Strangelove Collection?

    The focus of the collection is mostly on nuclear fission. I follow the historical events from the Manhattan Project and the destruction of Hiroshima to the nuclear testing in Nevada and the Pacific. Other themes are on the responses to the nuclear threat, in form of civil defense and propaganda in addition to the advancements of reactor technology. From the beginning, I included space and rocketry-related photographs. The early missiles were actually meant to go to Moscow, not to the moon. I understand the space race as a ritualized form of the Cold War.

  8. Exhibition at the Concertgebouw Brugge, Belgium.
    Early NASA Satellites

  9. The name ‘Strangelove’ obviously refers to Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 satirical film about the Cold War.
    Aside from the obvious subject matter connection, why did you think this was a fitting name?

    A major step in building the collection was the acquisition of a group of official photographs of the classified Pluto project at the Nevada Test Site. Pluto was the idea of a nuclear-propelled doomsday machine. Theoretically, it could have carried many nuclear weapons to be dropped on multiple targets. Since nuclear power gave it almost unlimited range, the missile could then spend weeks flying over populated areas at low altitudes causing secondary damage from radiation. Livermore National Laboratory built two working prototypes of the reactor. The project was cancelled in 1964, as Kennedy found the idea too “provocative.”

    Another step was the acquisition of a series of fantastic early NASA photos from a seller in Alabama. It turned out that he was the grandson of a German rocket scientist, one of the first who was taken to the US along with Werner von Braun during “Operation Paperclip”. I asked him about his famous ancestor. He said that he had never met his grandfather. When his father fell in love with his mother, an American woman, the old Nazi cut ties with the family. I felt Strangelove was a fitting name for the collection.

  10. Livermore National Laboratory
    Printed in 1957
    Type "C" Ektacolor paper
    20 x 25 cm
    Stamped and numbered.
    Project Pluto. Tory-IIA prototype

    All rights reserved. 2024 Strangelove Collection
  11. NUCLEUS, Noorderlicht Internationales Fotofestival
    Installation Nuclear Testing

  12. Strange World. Galerie Albert van Abbehuis
    Installation Nucleus

  13. How is the collection structured?

    The collection is curated according to artistic criteria. I am inspired by artists like Peter Piller or Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel. I think in exhibition installations and book layouts. Over time, I have built up a cluster of thematic series. One is called “Rocket Men” a group of almost erotic photos of military men touching missile models, another group shows civil defense workers pointing at maps.


    Ironic humour comes almost naturally to these pictures. Others are rather dark. They all portray a dusty retro science fiction world in which men in suits are involved in obscure operations. It sure looks funny, but we should be careful. In the future, our own current scientific explorations and social conditions might also well be considered as a curiosity.

  14. NASA Propulsion Laboratory
    Photographed in 1960
    4x5 inch negative

    All rights reserved. 2024 Strangelove Collection
  15. Flight Dynamics Research Facility
    Printed in 1961
    Vintage Silver gelatin print
    13 x 18 cm

    All rights reserved. 2024 Strangelove Collection
  16. Has the collection expanded to include material you weren’t collecting at first?

    Absolutely. Every photo in my collection tells a unique story. As you dive in, you discover more and more details and connections which lead to new stories. The environmental philosopher Timothy Morton describes nuclear weapons as things that are within our understanding but beyond our immediate grasp. Maybe that describes best what my quest is really about.

  17. Pressphoto
    Printed in 1945
    Vintage Silver gelatin print
    20 x 25 cm
    Caption and stamps
    Major Ferebee demonstrated how the atom bomb sailed down to its target.

    All rights reserved. 2024 Strangelove Collection
  18. Official Photograph A.A.F.
    Printed in 1945
    Vintage Silver gelatin print
    20 x 25 cm
    Stamped, caption & markings
    Hiroshima Ground Zero

    All rights reserved. 2024 Strangelove Collection
  19. Questions were taken from an interview with the Classic Magazine. You can download a copy of the magazine and read the full interview here.