Interview with Dr A.V. Arun
Orthodontist in Chennai, India
An orthodontist with a museum? Yes, you read it right! APOS is extremely fortunate to be able to invite Dr A.V. Arun, an orthodontist from Chennai, India to share his passion for vintage cameras and photographic equipment with us. Dr. Arun was past Vice President and past Honorary Secretary of the Indian Orthodontic Society. He now owns one of the largest vintage camera museums in Asia. Read on to find out about his very interesting journey with cameras:
How did you develop a passion for collecting cameras?
It all started during my formative school years when I used to collect everything from bottle covers to old perfume bottles to miniature cars. As I grew older, my passion turned towards antiques and vintage collectables and vintage cameras were one of them.
When did you start collecting cameras?
Back in 1994 whilst browsing in a flea market, I came across two broken down twin lens cameras. I bought them both for USD$2, dismantled them and started to learn about their mechanisms. Once I understood how the twins lens cameras worked, I became more curious and started collecting more and more vintage pieces. By the year 2000, I had collected about 550 cameras.
When did you decide to start a Museum for Vintage Cameras?
In 2013, the World Camera Fair visited Chennai and invited me to display some of my collection of vintage cameras. This was an amazing opportunity as I managed to put on show of around 800 different types of vintage and antique cameras. We had at least 12,000 visitors in the three days of the Fair.
Soon, the Chennai Photographic Club asked if I could arrange another exhibition for them. It was during that time that a suggestion to start a museum came up. My collection of vintage cameras had grown to around 1500 by then and finally in 2017, I set up an exclusive museum for vintage and film camera and all types of photography equipment.
What challenges did you face along the way?
There were numerous hurdles I faced but the biggest challenge was the initial financial struggle because creating a museum of international standards and one that will stand out and be on par with other museums around the world involved a lot of financial planning. Every stage was a struggle, right from renting a building at the perfect location to interior decorating. The museum also required plenty of display units and with appropriate lighting for the exhibits.
Another challenge was to provide time for both my profession and my passion (dentistry and my museum). All in all, it involved a lot of struggles but worth it in the end.
How many cameras do you now have at the museum?
At present, the museum houses 3021 vintage cameras and around 560 accessories which includes lenses, flashes, view finders and many more. The oldest camera in the collection is a folding bellows wooden camera that was made in 1870 in London. The largest camera we have is 7feet long and 4feet tall!
Any last words to our fellow APOS members?
I would like to extend a warm welcome to all the APOS members to my museum in Chennai whenever you visit India. It will be my pleasure to show another fellow orthodontist around the museum and around Chennai too.
For those of you who are still holding on to their old film cameras, please do not throw them away and do donate them to the museum. If you would like to donate them to the museum, please contact me here:
Details of the museum:
Address: Dr.Arun’s Photography and Vintage Camera Museum
No3, East Coast Road, Kovalam, Chennai 603112, India
Telephone Number: +91 9884042526