History of Art and Architecture

Colleen O'Reilly and Aisling Quigley Colloquium

Wednesday, January 25, 2017 - 12:15pm

202 Frick Fine Arts Building

Botany Hall: Dioramas in Context

Colleen O’Reilly and Aisling Quigley


 Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Botany Hall, Photo by Kate Madison

What is the role of crafted objects in the exchange of scientific knowledge? How might we describe the authority of scientific displays without obscuring their culturally-specific artistic origins? How can natural history museums make the histories of objects in their collection visible to viewers? Can digital infrastructures offer new solutions? We are creating an online exhibition that explores these issues in relation to the Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s Botany Hall and positions it as a focal point for interdisciplinary expert knowledge. Our exhibition will be a research project on Botany Hall itself but will also explore new ways for audiences to engage with natural history museum display. We will combine our backgrounds in art history and information science to explore how formal concerns intertwine with scientific ones and to look at creative ways of contextualizing the information contained within these objects.