May has been collecting stereoscopic images since his band’s early years and his collection includes over 100,000 pictures. The most expensive item in the collection – an image of Queen Victoria – cost the musician £36,000.
3D pictures were popular during the 19th century, with two images displayed through a special viewer to create the illusion of depth. May has even devised his very own apparatus to use in examining the pieces (see photo, right).
“This is a very big thrill, being able to share my own excitement in these photographs,” May told The Guardian. “In the 19th century somebody called them ‘the poor man’s art gallery’ – but that was a derogatory term – they usually haven’t been taken seriously as art or photography.”
“It’s actually a shock to see them here – I never thought for one moment they’d agree to show them,” May added.
‘A Poor Man’s Picture Gallery’ will run at Tate Britain until April 12, 2015, after opening at the London gallery last week.
Earlier this year, May was given the all-clear following a cancer scare in late 2013. “I celebrated in the studio with a cup of tea,” he said at the time. “I know how to rock!”