Leonard Nimoy's photography exhibit, Secret Selves, opens August 1 at MASS MoCA.
The average fan knows Leonard Nimoy primarily as Star Trek’s Spock, but the fact is Nimoy has always been more than that single character. That will never be more clear this week when Nimoy’s growing stature as a major contemporary photographer will be on display with the opening of “Secret Selves,” an exhibition of 26 color photographs, 11 of them life size, at Mass MoCA in North Adams, MA.

This is Nimoy’s first solo show at a major museum, although his photography is included in many museum collections, including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Judah L. Magnes Museum, The LA County Museum of Art, the Jewish Museum of NY, The New Orleans Museum of Fine Art and The Hammer Museum.

According to a summary of the project on the site of Nimoy’s primary dealer, R. Michelson Galleries:

In November 2008, Leonard Nimoy was at R. Michelson Galleries in Northampton, Massachusetts, to begin his latest photographic journey: Secret Selves. We gathered 100 subjects from all walks of life: artists, clergy, politicians, business owners, and asked them the question, Who do you think you are? Each subject was recorded as Mr. Nimoy interviewed them and created a portrait of their “alternate identity.”

An 80-page catalog has been published in conjunction with the exhibition and includes a foreword by Joseph Thompson, Director of MASS MoCA; an introduction by Leonard Nimoy; a behind-the-scenes description of the project by Richard Michelson, and an essay by John Stomberg, Chief Curator of the Williams College Museum of Art. The publication features full-page plates of the 25 photographs included in the exhibition, as well as over 80 additional images from the series.

A Clip from the DVD included with Leonard Nimoy’s Secret Selves book


More info about the exhibit here.

Don’t miss Charles McGrath’s insightful interview with Nimoy in the New York Times.

Also see Leonard Pierce’s great interview with Nimoy on A.V. Club.

  • I traveled up from New Jersey to take part in this project taking a day off from my work at Tenafly High School where I head the school’s library media center. I had a video camera with me. Mr. Nimoy asked that I turn this camera upon myself and lift it up in the air, he then took the shot and said it was a good one. His instruction seemed quick and spontaneous. I said to Mr. Nimoy that I learned through the philosophy of Aesthetic Realism that art can answer questions – he responded by saying that art can also ask questions. Later I asked if he would be so kind to record a message to our students and he generously agreed. During his message his experience and candor comes through. Recording linked here: I think his message had good effect on many of our students. I hope for his next project Mr. Nimoy will involve himself in education by perhaps taking a small group of students on a journey through a philosophical concept and photographic project similar to this one – accompanied with rich discussion, questions, answers, and wonder!

  • Thanks for sharing the video, David. What a thrill to get an in-person interview with him for your students.