Plants and animals. Atlases of natural history in the age of Linnaeus

Plants and animals. Atlases of natural history in the age of Linnaeus

Exhibition from March 25th until May 31st, 2020

The more fragile and exposed to destruction nature becomes the more strongly we yearn for a living world. Once represented by descriptors such as pristine, enduring, and at our fingertips, now it is associated with endangered species, shrinking resources and a burning need to protect what still remains.

This exhibition responds to that nostalgia by putting at the centre not the human ego and neuroses, as is often the case, but the immense beauty of nature, which we can still experience directly. From subtle flowers drawn with great attention to detail, to familiar animal species captured by a researcher, to majestic portraits of exotic birds, countless fish shapes and unrepeatable colour patterns on butterflies, this is a vast presentation of perfectly preserved and delightfully colourful graphic images of plants and animals from the collection of old prints of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences.

While the images on view were made primarily for use in the sciences, the artistic quality of the prints argues for their recognition as independent works of art. The exhibition will survey prints and portfolios as well as flora and fauna atlases, most of them never previously displayed publicly. Often ravishingly edited, many of them, like the celebrated work of naturalist Maria Sybilla Merian and the famous book by Ulisses Aldrovandi, were milestones in the scientific exploration of the world.

The presentation is interdisciplinary in character: it is rooted in art history but at the same time is both informative and educational, and as such will appeal to a wide range of audiences, from traditional gallery goers to nature buffs (gardeners, breeders), professional biologists, and all with an interest in ecology.

Organised in partnership with the Science Library of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences in Krakow.

    
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