Making Nature exhibition opens at Wellcome Collection
News / Published: 1 December 2016
Wellcome Collection’s new exhibition, 'Making Nature: How we see animals', explores how humans relate to other animals, a question that has captivated philosophers, anthropologists, scientists, ethicists and artists for centuries.
The exhibition brings together over 100 objects from literature, film, taxidermy and photography to examine what we think, feel and value about other species and the consequences this has for the world around us. From the formalisation of natural history as a science, to the creation of museums, zoos and wildlife documentaries, 'Making Nature' asks how and why we look at animals and what we see when we do.
The exhibition is organised around four themes: ‘Ordering’, ‘Displaying’, ‘Observing’ and ‘Making’, and includes works by contemporary artists Marcus Coates, Allora & Calzadilla and Abbas Akhavan.
- a first edition of Charles Linnaeus’ 'Systema Naturae' 1735. On loan from the Royal Society for the first time, this was one of the most important scientific works of the 18th century.
- ‘zoo-pets’ or mascots, such as London Zoo’s Jumbo the Elephant, and polar bear Ivy and her cub Brumas
- pictures by contemporary photographers Richard Ross and Hiroshi Sugimoto that expose the complexities of trying to represent animals in a museum setting
- Phillip Warnell’s film installation 'Ming of Harlem: Twenty One Storeys in the Air' 2016, which explores the true story of Antoine Yates, who lived in a high-rise New York apartment with a tiger called Ming and a large alligator.
The final section of the exhibition is a major collaboration with the US Center for PostNatural History, the only organisation to solely collect organisms that have been intentionally altered by humans. From domesticated pigeons that helped inform Charles Darwin’s theories of natural selection, to transgenic mosquitoes used in the battle against disease spread, these objects tell an alternative story of nature; one that is bound up with human civilisation.
'Making Nature: How we see animals' runs from 1 December 2016 to 21 May 2017. It is the first part of Wellcome Collection’s year-long exploration into how humans relate to the natural world.