Much is being said within the museum industry about the definition of museums. ICOM is considering the current definition and whether it needs to be rethought. I think a review is worthwhile, regardless of whether changes are ultimately made. Robust thinking about museums (or any field, in fact), whether related to practice or theory, should … More Natural History and a Unified Museum Definition
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
Last September, there was a brief flurry of activity over the idea of a program that can distinguish homosexual versus heterosexual faces, based on their online dating image (see this, for instance, from the BBC). It started shortly before a scientific article was published by Stanford’s Yilun Wang Michal Kosinski in the online journal Open … More What’s wrong with a gay facial recognition program
A friend just emailed me a series of articles which surprised me considerably. Each describes an event in which an animal has died at the hands of somebody – and in some cases many people – grabbing it to take selfies. Here are some examples within the last couple of weeks – warning this isn’t … More Killing wildlife – one selfie at a time
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?
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