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Collecting Nature

May 16–September 30, 2002
East Building, Ground Floor, Study Center

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery.

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original exhibition poster
click to enlarge

Overview: Along with art and literature, the Renaissance brought a renewed interest in science. Unlike today—when most museums are publicly accessible, each dedicated to a specific subject matter and designed to accommodate particular kinds of objects—collections in this era were private affairs, and many collectors combined painting and sculpture with natural history specimens into a cabinet of curiosities. Through the combination of catalogs of these types of “cabinet” collections, botany, and zoology surveys by famous polymaths like Athanasius Kircher, and other works that make use of natural history, this exhibition described some ways that art and science worked in tandem.

Organization: The exhibition was organized by the National Gallery of Art. Neal Turtell, executive librarian, was curator.