With an Eye on Nature.

Feathers, Fossils and Photographs

Gothenburg's Natural History Museum

July 8 2023–January 7 2024

The exhibition takes you on a journey through time, out in nature and into the rich image archive of Gothenburg's Natural History Museum. Since the mid-nineteenth century, photography has served as an important tool in encounters with nature from the perspectives of both scientific research and amateurs’ devoted examinations of plants, animals, and geology. In the exhibited images, we encounter everything from the small sea roach to a giant lumpfish found off the west coast and geological formations of gneiss and silicon.

 

Through the museum's extensive image collection, which ranges from the early black-and-white portraits of natural scientists and their discoveries to today's high-resolution digitizations of type material, we can follow the development of photographic technology and its use in the natural sciences.

 

Photography has revolutionized the way we observe and perceive nature. At the museum, photography is an indispensable tool for research, preservation, and protection of biological diversity. The camera is used in everything from documenting and describing new species and their natural habitats to photographing museum objects for digitization and exhibitions. However, new visual technologies offer creative possibilities for exploring and communicating museum collections in new ways.

 

With an Eye on Nature questions how and when nature looks back at the person behind the camera. Can photography and new imaging technologies pave the way for different interactions between biological beings such as birds, trees, fungi, and people?

 

The exhibition is based on collections of the Gothenburg Museum of Natural History, in which two guest curators from the Hasselblad Foundation have been botanizing. With an Eye on Nature also includes photographs by bird and nature enthusiast Victor Hasselblad, who was deeply involved in the museum, and works by a selection of contemporary artists who look at nature differently than the scientific.

 

Gothenburg's natural history museum collections span over 150 years. The museum moved to the current building in connection with the city's 300th-anniversary celebration in 1923. With an Eye on Nature is an anniversary exhibition celebrating the museum's first 100 years in Slottsskogen. A wall next to the exhibition is inhabited by colourful birds carved from fresh hazel by primary school students from Västra Götaland.

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