This exhibition, which borrows its name and subject from Carnegie Museum of Natural History, brings together a wide range of contemporary works from Carnegie Museum of Art’s collection to explore artists’ interests in the natural world.
So often, when artists visit the Museum of Art to discuss projects, the objects and displays of the Museum of Natural History engage them as much as the superlative collections of art. Artists have of course been interested in the natural world since the beginning of history (or at least art history). The works on view here are testament to their sustained engagement, and are the most recent manifestations of a genre that—despite profound changes to our relationship with nature—is unlikely to ever disappear.
Natural History coyly borrows its title from the museum next door, but it is first and foremost a presentation of artworks—objects created by artists that seek to tell subjective, often eccentric stories of our natural history (and present). While the Museum of Natural History’s rigorously scientific narratives and displays clarify, explain, and make wondrous the complexity of our natural world, the artworks here often creatively obscure, reveling in contradiction and complexity while nonetheless aiming for different kinds of truths, representations, and wonder.