Curiouser: Art, Science and the Secret Lives of Specimens

Event Details

Curiouser: Art, Science and the Secret Lives of Specimens

Time: November 12, 2011 to September 9, 2012
Location: Museum of Natural History + Planetarium • Roger Williams Park • Providence, RI.
Event Type: exhibition
Latest Activity: Nov 3, 2011

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Event Description

CURIOUSER utilizes the Museum of Natural History's antiquarian collections in five unique new installations.

At the Museum of Natural History + Planetarium • Roger Williams Park • Providence, RI.  Opening on Saturday Nov. 12, 2011 through mid‐September 2012.

For the second year running, Providence’s Museum of Natural History has invited a group of contemporary artists to create new works drawing from over 250,000 rarely‐seen items held in its Victorian collections. Last year’s show offered a unique lens on the Victorian obsession with natural studies, concerning itself with the era’s drive to collect and categorize all of nature’s bounty and with notions of nature as inexhaustible.

For the 2011 exhibit, five artists will create works that present specimens from the Museum’s 19th century collections in a transformative light, seeking out secret narratives, latent myths and hidden agendas within a vast catalogue of pinned insects, taxidermy animals, boxed birds’ eggs and more. Curiouser‘s innovative works invite viewers to look forward as well as back, exploring the ‘history of natural history’ while drawing connections to our own complex relationships with nature today.

Featuring New Installations by (please see attached bios):

Pippi Zornoza • Nick+Erin Potter • Judith G. Klausner • Victor Signore • Gina Siepel

Curiouser was created with the goal of giving the public a glimpse into the Museum’s vast vaulted collections.  The idea is not to show these seldom‐seen items as arcane specimens, but rather as vivid evidence of a time when people were perhaps curiouser than we are today. Curiouser will free the Museum’s antique collections from the strict imperatives of science and analysis, releasing them “down the rabbit‐hole” of artistic production.  Artists’ works incorporate actual pieces from the Museum’s Victorian collections.

‘Curiouser and curiouser!’ cried Alice.… Alice’s exclamation at Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland offers a compelling reflection of the Victorian obsession with the natural world. As science, trade and travel entered a new era, the old frontiers rolled back to reveal a fantastic array of animal, mineral and vegetable marvels from far‐flung lands.  The era’s enthusiasm for this wide new world was not just academic: everyday people got in on the natural history movement, becoming avid collectors of the life they found around them. Though we may find it hard to believe today, at the height of the Victorian era natural history was its own sort of pop culture.

Curiouser was conceived and curated by Erik Carlson and Erica Carpenter.

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