I’ve always loved this painting. Vertumnus looks serenely at the viewer, a slight smile making you think he knows something you’d like to. It’s a clever work of Mannerism, seamlessly weaving a complex array of perfectly rendered fruits and other plants into the portrait of a human face full of character. The portrait is of … More Art, Science and the Intersection of Knowledge
After the infamous case of the untimely death of the beloved Cecil the lion, natural history museums have become even more careful than before about demonstrating the provenance of the specimens they use for research and display. Big game hunting can be viewed with such distaste by members of the museum-going public that its display … More The Ongoing Question of Trophy Hunting
The rapid decline of the global environment is an inescapable fact. The Earth’s major oxygen sources, coral reefs and rain forests, are disappearing along with the species that live in them. Atmospheric carbon is rising precipitously and one in a hundred year storms are becoming the norm. As the planet warms and forests are removed … More In an age of humans, can the arts save the planet?
At the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, we have two new arrivals: a pair of just hatched American alligators. It’s important to start handling your baby alligator when it’s still very young or you’ll find it increasingly difficult to make any impression as the animal grows larger. So, happily, I’ve been invited by our wonderful … More How to cuddle an alligator
About two weeks ago the level of activity in my household was added to significantly by the addition of a miniature pinscher, Electra. She’s 5 months old, incredibly friendly and relatively non-destructive. This photo taken at the pet shop makes her look the size of a shepherd, but in fact she’s not much bigger than … More People and Their Pets
I’m just about to give a public lecture. It will be at Whanganui Regional Museum in a couple of days’ time. The talk is, with some modification, one that I delivered in Japan last month, as a guest of the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tsukuba. The topic of the gathering was the … More Make Way for the Anthropocene
Having just posted a book announcement on Art and Ethics on the website of ICOM NATHIST Ethics Working Group (click here for that) has given me pause to think about how the ethics of art touches on natural history. There are many facets to this. For instance, wildlife photography. When we sit down to our television … More Art and the Ethics of Natural History