Sunday, March 03, 2013

Free Public Lecture on Art & Natural History by Petra Lange-Bernd


From the Curator of Museum Services at the University of Dundee:

To accompany the current exhibitions in the Tower Building, we will be hosting a free public lecture on Monday 4th March at 5.30pm in the D’Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre (ground floor, Tower). The lecture, entitled Subsculpture: Assembling a Museum of Attractions, will be given by Dr Petra Lange-Berndt, a lecturer in Art History at University College, London. 

Since the early twentieth century, artists have been commenting critically on the public displays of natural history museums, exploring issues such as the favouring of photogenic species, or the role of the museum in colonial conquest. Focusing particularly on the work of artists Mark Dion and Mike Kelley, Petra will discuss the importance of such approaches to contemporary art curation. While museums often see themselves as controlled environments, the ambivalence of taxidermied animals and other natural history collections often provides a focus for more disruptive impulses. 

By considering the history of related natural history displays in grottoes, side shows, fun fairs and curiosity shops, Petra will explore whether static displays about nature can become active, changing projects. Can artists and curators reclaim different histories that challenge the dominant norms?

Dr Petra Lange-Berndt is the author of Animal Art 1850-2000 and co-organiser of the AHRC-funded Research Network Cultures of Preservation: the Afterlife of Specimens between Art and Science since the Eighteenth Century. She also runs the Preserved! website bringing art and natural history together online.

The lecture is free and all are welcome – no need to book. For more on our exhibitions click here.