Mark Dion

Collectors Collected. The Material Culture of Field Work.

What makes someone lie in wait for hours in order to observe a certain animal, or spend years traveling through foreign countries to collect animals, plants, or stones?

A desire to explore these motivations is the point of departure for Mark Dion’s artistic intervention. He looks at the scientists who have been gathering objects for the collections of the Naturkundemuseum for over two centuries, much like an anthropologist studies a foreign culture by examining the everyday objects and utensils used.

Dion directs his attention to those tools and materials that are used for work outside “in the field”. In doing so he asks how these objects offer information about the technological, political, cultural-historical, and economic aspects that influence scientific work ­– from the time of the German Empire to the Nazi period, to East Germany, and up to the present day.


Mark Dion (born 1961 in New Bedford, Massachusetts; lives in New York) has been working since the 1980s on our relationship to nature in science and art. He has exhibited internationally, including the Natural History Museum in London (2007), the documenta 13 in Kassel (2012), the Istanbul Biennale, and the ICA Boston (both 2017).

Curator: Christine Heidemann
Project assistant: Jule Stange

Mark Dion
© Museum für Naturkunde / Jule Stange