The fourth round of “Art/Nature – Artistic Interventions” at the Museum für Naturkunde (Natural History) in Berlin features three installations and a micro-opera composed for the Museum’s wet collections. “It’s not easy for any artist to compete with a dinosaur,” jokes American artist Mark Dion, one of five artists who developed interventions responding to the Museum’s collection and history.
In his installation “Collectors Collected. The Material Culture of Fieldwork,” Dion positions scientists traveling to foreign countries on scientific expeditions as subjects of study themselves: “We’re looking at the scientists as though they were an ethnographic group…What are their values? What do they believe? And in the same way that an ethnographic museum would do that by collecting people’s material culture, we’re collecting the material culture of scientists.”
Bergit Arends curated the installation BERLINWAL by Turner Prize recipient Elizabeth Price. The work is a reflection on the former Whale Hall at the Museum, which housed a number of whale skeletons before it was destroyed in a firestorm in 1945.
Seeing contemporary art among plant, rock and animal specimens may surprise some, but Arends sees it as a natural fit. “The Natural History Museum is an amazing miniature of the world, so I think that’s why artists get drawn into it,” she explains.
Photo by Monika Müller-Kroll.