Science in Sight

Science in Sight

Scientific Photography from the Image Archive, ETH Bibliothek

The interplay between photography and science



Title Information

Monika Burri. Edited by Michael Gasser and Nicole Graf

1st edition

, 2013

Text English and German


208 pages, 66 color and 141 b/w illustrations

20 x 26 cm

ISBN 978-3-85881-395-4

Pictorial Worlds: Photographs from the Image Archive, ETH-Bibliothek. Vol. 3


Since its early days, photography has been both, tool for and subject of scientific research. Developments in photochemistry, camera construction and lenses made photography an extremely successful mass medium. At the same time, photography served scientific research as a key medium for observation, documentation, education and communication.

ETH-Bibliothek, the main library at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich’s (ETH Zurich), is holding in its Image Archive vast collections of photographs. Among them is the complete, and so far only little examined, collection of ETH Zurich’s own Photographic Institute throughout its existence as an independent service and research unit between 1886 and 1979. The new, third volume in the series Pictorial Worlds. Photographs from the Image Archive, ETH-Bibliothek documents both main aspects of scientific photography: servicing research in many disciplines and being subject of basic research itself. A rich selection of images is presented, ranging from astronomical and micro photography to laboratory situations and carefully illuminated experimental installations. The introductory essay investigates the interplay between photography and the world of science and tells the story and changing role over the decades of ETH Zurich’s Photographic Institute.


The book received an award from the Stiftung Buchkunst in the 2013 competition Most Beautiful Books from Germany.


Designed by Claudio Barandun, Hi - Visuelle Gestaltung.


Already available in the series Pictorial Worlds: Photographs from the Image archive, ETH-Bibliothek:

The World in Pocket-Size Format

Swissair Souvenirs

Swissair Aerial Photography

Photo Mosaic Switzerland

Walter Mittelholzer Revisited

Authors & Editors

Monika Burri

 (*1970) is a research archivist at the state archives of the Swiss canton Aargau. She has studied general and Swiss history and philiosophy at the University of Zürich and also works as a free-lance cultural publicist.

Michael Gasser

 is head of the archives at ETH-Bibliothek in Zürich.

Nicole Graf

 is head of the Image Archive, ETH-Bibliothek in Zürich.