05
Feb
13

Exhibition: ‘Cabinet of Curiosities: Photography & Specimens’ at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

Exhibition dates: 12th September 2012 – 10th February 2013

 

Many thankx to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Joseph Javier Woodward (American, 1833–1884). 'Photomicrograph of a Crab Louse' c. 1864-65

 

Joseph Javier Woodward (American, 1833-1884)
Photomicrograph of a Crab Louse
c. 1864-65
Albumen print
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Wilson Alwyn Bentley (American, 1865-1931). 'Snowflakes' c. 1905

 

Wilson Alwyn Bentley (American, 1865-1931)
Snowflakes
c. 1905
Gelatin silver prints
Gifts of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Wilson Alwyn Bentley (American, 1865-1931). 'Snowflakes' c. 1905 (detail)

 

Wilson Alwyn Bentley (American, 1865-1931)
Snowflakes (detail)
c. 1905
Gelatin silver prints
Gifts of the Hall Family Foundation

 

Charles Jones (American, 1866-1959). 'Radish, French Breakfast' c. 1900

 

Charles Jones (American, 1866-1959)
Radish, French Breakfast
c. 1900
Gelatin silver print
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

 

The photography exhibition Cabinet of Curiosities: Photography & Specimens opens Sept. 12 at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. Featuring works that date from the 1850s to the present day, this show explores the many ways photography has expanded our centuries-old fascination with the marvellous, unusual, unexpected, exotic, extraordinary or rare.

“In the 16th and 17th centuries, Cabinets of Curiosities functioned like small museums. They were assembled by their owners to reflect the fascination with science and art,” said Jane Aspinwall, associate curator of photography. “Photography has always emphasised that relationship: specimens are typically used for scientific study, but they can also be considered works of art.”

This exhibition includes examples ranging from the very tiny (microscopic images of snowflakes and insects) to the very distant (telescopic image of the moon’s surface). Some images, such as X-rays, emphasise photography’s role in extending human vision. Others document such oddities as Peter the Great’s collection of pulled teeth. The wide range of processes on display – including daguerreotypes, tintypes and cyanotypes – further suggests that these photographic objects are themselves visual specimens from a bygone era.

“To me, the range of specimens in this exhibition is fascinating. Botanical, X-ray, microscopic, medical… there is even a photograph of a fragment of a Civil War soldier’s arm bone, mounted and saved by the Army Medical Museum… what an oddity!”

Featured contemporary photographers Matthew Pillsbury, Emmet Gowin, and Richard Barnes raise questions about how specimens are displayed, preserved and interpreted and how this relates to the natural world. The differing ways specimens are seen photographically, and the human-made constructs used for specimen display are also explored.

Press release from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art website

 

William Bell (American, b. England 1830-1910). 'Successful Excision of the Head of the Humerus' 1864

 

William Bell (American, b. England 1830-1910)
Successful Excision of the Head of the Humerus
1864
Albumen print
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,

 

Unknown maker (American). 'Man with Skulls' c. 1850

 

Unknown maker (American)
Man with Skulls
c. 1850
Daguerreotype
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,

 

Unknown maker (American). 'Hand X-Ray' 1897

 

Unknown maker (American)
Hand X-Ray
1897
Gelatin silver print
Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,

 

Anna Atkins, English (1799-1871). 'Paris Arguta' c. 1850

 

Anna Atkins (English, 1799-1871)
Paris Arguta
c. 1850
Cyanotype
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation

 

 

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
4525 Oak Street
Kansas City, MO 64111

Opening hours:
Mon: 11am – 5pm
Tues, Wed: CLOSED
Thurs: 11am – 9pm
Fri: 11am – 5pm
Sat – Sun: 10am – 5pm

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Dogs, chickens, cattle’ 1994-95

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