The Symbiosis Network is holding its next conference online on 9, 11 and 13 November from Oxford University Museum of Natural History, supported by the University of Birmingham. The theme of the conference is Symbiosis: Art and Science in Natural History Museums and Collections. The panels will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. UK time, with free public registration. Confirmed speakers include representatives of leading museums from across Europe and the Americas, together with writers, artists and researchers. Click on the links to see the speakers for each session and to register. Everyone welcome.
Session 1: Natural History Museum Architecture and Design (Mon 9th Nov, 2-5 p.m.)
Since the nineteenth century, natural history museums have been designed to showcase science and the natural world through their art and architecture as well as their specimens. In this session, we will discuss major building projects and renovations from the twenty-first century to examine the role played by architecture and design in natural history museums today.
Session 2: Palaeoart – Reimagining Neanderthals (Wed 11th Nov, 2-3 p.m.)
With the discovery that Neanderthals and modern humans interbred, we have come to see our relationship to them in very different terms. In the first of three panel discussions on palaeoart, we will be looking at how the arts can help us to reimagine our nearest extinct relatives.
Session 3: Case Studies in the History of Palaeoart (Wed 11th Nov, 3-4 p.m.)
Since the beginning of palaeontology as a science, artists have sought to depict extinct animals and the landscapes they inhabited. In the second of three panel discussions on palaeoart, we will look at how nineteenth- and twentieth-century artists from different countries around the world responded to scientific discoveries and each other’s art in imagining prehistoric life.
Session 4: Palaeoart – Modelling Ancient Life (Wed 11th Nov, 4-5 p.m.)
Museums do not only display the fossilized remains of ancient life, but also try to show us what they would have looked like when alive. In the last of three panel discussions on palaeoart, we will look at the techniques involved in modelling extinct animals and plants in museums, today, in the past and into the future.
Session 5: The Anthropocene and the Arts in NHMs (Fri 13th Nov, 2-5 p.m.)
Natural history museums have a key role and responsibility in addressing the environmental crises of climate change, habitat loss and mass extinction brought about by the impact of modern human societies on the natural world. In this final session, we ask leading experts from museums around the world to reflect on how museums can meet this challenge and on how the arts can help enhance their engagement with public audiences at this crucial juncture.