Natural Histories, science and art

Natural Histories: 400 Years of Scientific Illustration from the Museum’s Library at the American Museum of Natural History reintroduces the deep connections between art and science. With five centuries of illustrations the show spans the discoveries of new species, the yearning for places yet to be seen and the imagination of what something might look like, allowing artists and scientists to build an understanding of our world.  

Frog Dissection A female green frog (Pelophylax kl. esculentus) with egg masses is shown in dissection above a view of the frog’s skeleton in the book Historia naturalis ranarum nostratium…(Natural history of the native frogs…) from 1758. Shadows and dissecting pins add to the realism.  © AMNH\D. Finnin

Natural Histories Maria Sibyll Merian Pineapple
German naturalist and artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) spent two years documenting the flora and fauna of Surinam, South America, creating the book Metamorphosis, from which this engraving is reproduced. 

Flying Gurnard Allgemeine Naturgeschichte der Fische (General natural history of fishes), a 12-volume encyclopedia by author/illustrator Marcus Elieser Bloch (1723-1799), described all fish species then known to science (and 267 previously unknown) including this colorful flying gurnard (Trigla volitans), which seems to be captured mid-swim.   © AMNH\D. Finnin

Bloch's Flying Gurnard, 1782-1795

From Marcus Bloch's 12-volume encyclopedia of fishes (1782-1795


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