From 1850 till 1900 photographers needed a darkroom wagon on location to prepare and develop their glas plates. For my engagements in living museums, workshops and as artist I want to build a one.

CHF 11’709

117% of CHF 10’000

117 %
This is how it worksä

The «all or nothing» principle applies: The project only receives the funds if the funding target is reached or exceeded.

43 backers

Successfully concluded on 11/10/2017


With your help, I going to rebuild a darkroom wagon inspired by photography from the 1860s.

For almost 10 years, I have been working as a photographer, author and lecturer of photography. I have also developed a passion for the creative possibilities of historical photography. I have written a book about my favourite technique - the collodion wet plate process and have exhibited photos at museums in Switzerland and Germany using this technique. This historical process which was in use from 1850 to 1900, is a very complex instant-image process in which all steps have to be completed while the plate is still wet. This means the darkroom must always be brought to the location.


Hardly any original darkroom wagons have survived and this historical photographic progress is becoming obsolete. The original darkroom wagons were too big and bulky. Many were destroyed by the corrosive processing chemicals. Today however, we have some illustrations which serve as an inspiration for me to design and build such a wagon. The new wagon has to meet modern requirements for environmental and worker safety and the safe usage of chemicals. Likewise, an infrared camera will be installed for museums and exhibitions, ensuring visitors can also follow on the screen what is happening in the darkroom.

Whenever possible, the wagon should be built as it would have been built 150 years ago. Employing local sources, the wagon will be manufactured within 3 km of my studio. From the apprentice to the senior boss, our local blacksmiths (located in the middle of my village) is looking forward to starting the work. The wood is provided by my studio neighbor who runs a woodworking workshop which is a protected facility within the Wabe Foundation in Wald. The wax cloth fabric will be weaved by a former weaving mill also located in my village. The oil paint I will make myself, and since I studied as cabinet-maker 30 years ago, I’m glad that the wood chips will fly again…

In addition to my own artistic activities and workshops, the wagon will be used in various open-air museums and exhibitions. It can be easily packed into an estate car as the wheels can be dismantled and travel on the roof.


This project is also about the joy of photography and the construction of the darkroom is almost the campfire around which everything revolves. This projects leads itself to meeting many requirements:

• Pursuing my passion for photography • Using the wagon as a Unique Selling Propose for a unique photography process which attracts people • Sourcing as much as possible locally • Providing historical authenticity • Meeting modern safety and working standards

Please take a look at the accompanying Rewards which outlines how you can support this compelling project. With your support, I can start building the darkroom wagon and better convey my passion for this unique, historical photography in museums and workshops, as well as developing myself as an artist.

Thank you very much!

Yours, Peter Michels