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Art/Nature: Artistic Interventions at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin

Natural history museums have always been places where the study of nature has involved artists. By accompanying naturalists on expeditions, artists have contributed to tell the story of life on Earth, recording, sketching, and depicting what they have seen and documenting the collections in the exhibition rooms through their drawings and presentations. Today’s natural history collections and museums exert a particular fascination on many contemporary artists.

In line with this tradition, the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and the German Federal Cultural Foundation have invited a number of international artists to develop interventions for one of Europe’s most renowned natural history museums in a four-year-long model project that also involves the participation of external curators.

In a process of intensive exploration – of the research museum, its collections, exhibitions, and history – the artists will generate new works of art which will be shown in the museum for a limited period of time and subsequently considered for inclusion in the permanent exhibition.

With a number of interventions in the genres of visual art, sound art, and literature, the model project is creating an experimental space where art, museum practice, and natural history research can interact. It thus seeks to provide a new model for contemporary art in natural history museums, both within Germany and across the globe.

The project aims to experimentally transcend the communicative barriers between the artistic domain and that of the natural history museum, in order to open up fresh perspectives both on nature and on museum culture, to shed new light on scientific objects, and to change the way we view natural history museums in general. In this respect, “Art/Nature” will encourage artistic reflection on the role and functions of natural history museums in the twenty-first century.

The artists have been selected on the basis of curatorial concepts by:

Advisor for visual art 2014: Juan Gaitán

Project management: Anita Hermannstädter, coordination: Yori Schultka, assistant: Carmen Heilmaier, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.

Antilope © Museum für Naturkunde / Carola Radke