At the Montshire: Amid the Science, Art
What do you do at work? What do you do when you’re not at work? See if you can marry the two and then explain it in a language that is new to you. That is what’s happening at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont.
A current exhibition, I Never Saw It That Way: Exploring Science Through Art, resulted after the Montshire staff were asked to think about science (that’s the work part), their outside interests, and how they might express a connection between the two through art. They ended up with 16 pieces that artfully depict a range of scientific information “from genetics to data visualization, from chemical reactions to arithmetic.”
Microbiologist and Grants Projects Manager Dr. Katie Price dipped into the Montshire’s fish and turtle tanks, grabbed a microscope, and photographed what lives in there—what you don’t see when you look through the glass. It turns out that tiny plant life, bacteria and nematodes are suitable for close-ups, and deserve their moment on a museum wall. Carol W. Harry, Museum Store Manager, created an upcycled outfit (photo above) made from old T-shirts and “block-printed with a slice of natural science.”
Public & Media Relations Manager Honor Hingston-Cox and Katie Kalata Rusch, Exhibitions Manager (her Ukrainian-influenced embroidery will cause you to actually visualize math) described their enthusiasm for the idea and the resulting exhibition. They started suspecting that their colleagues might be artsy. Inspired in part by art museums that have had exhibitions of their own workers’ art,* they invited Montshire employees to submit original works based on their own interests. A few pieces dribbled in, then another one, then a handful more. In the process, everyone learned something new, including things they never knew about their co-workers. “We knew that Courtney [Adams, Director of Donor & Member Relations] raised daylilies, but we had no idea there were so many different kinds,” said Rusch.
There’s more of course, including Visitor Services Associate Curtiss Clark’s verbal and visual ode to ferns. Gary Collins (he’ s the Facilities Manager) constructed a steel-bladed knife with a cherry handle made with scrap from the Montshire’s baseboards.
Custodian Bob Shannahan, whose job it is “to open the joint in the morning and get it up and running,” likes building things such as small boats and giant pole puppets. He submitted “Whirligig.” (Photo, above, mid-post) Look closely. At least one of those tiny figures headed into the maw is a man with a nest of blond hair, an ill-fitting suit, and a too-long red tie. Could it be . . .?
For more information, please click here. I Never Saw It That Way will be on display at the Montshire Museum of Science from October 7th 2022 to January 2nd, 2023.
*Fun fact: The Metropolitan Museum of Art has been, somewhat secretly, displaying its employees’ art in an exhibition every two years since 1935. This year it decided to make the exhibition open to the public for the first time. Click here for the story.
(With exception of photo, top, photos courtesy of the Montshire Museum)
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And in case you are wondering . . . Susan B. Apel shuttered a lifelong career as a law professor to continue an interest (since kindergarten) in writing. Her freelance business, The Next Word, includes literary and feature writing; her work has appeared in a variety of lit mags and other publications including Art New England, The Woven Tale Press, The Arts Fuse, and Persimmon Tree. She connects with her neighbors through Artful, her blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley. She’s in love with the written word.