A Natural History (Built to be Seen)

by Austin Cullen

A Natural History (Built to be Seen) catalogs the various ways the western natural world is presented and constructed within museums. As someone who grew up visiting natural history museums, I’ve always been fascinated by the extravagant ways museums framed the American landscape. Dramatic dioramas, interactive virtual experiences, and miniaturized landscapes all act as windows into the natural world. While this framing acts as a guide for reading and understanding nature, the same frame can be analyzed to understand the complex and ever-changing relationship between people and land.
Museums teach us about our environment, but often separate us from it. In an age of global climate crisis, it’s imperative to re-evaluate our understanding of nature. By creating images that subvert the viewer’s ideas of what is natural or not, I’m asking the viewer to recognize how influential museum nature is on their understanding of the larger natural world.