Nature's Warehouse

Photographer Justine Cooper has taken a haunting series of photographs behind the scenes at the American Museum of Natural History. Seed Magazine has posted a slideshow of her work, and I’ve written an accompanying essay on the hidden world that lies behind the dioramas. Check it out.

0 thoughts on “Nature's Warehouse

  1. Oh wow. Imagine being allowed to rummage through that lot as your job. I’ve got a friend in Invertebrate Zoology there who does just that.

    They’re struggling with their finances at the moment – there have been a bunch of redundancies, including scientific staff, and probably more next year.

  2. One of my grad advisors is at that museum, so I’ve spent far more time up in the labs than in the actual public museum. There is a ton of stuff just all over the place, in hallways because there’s no other spot for it. But I think the coolest spot of all is above the ceiling in the main hall. If you can get up there, you can see through the lights down on everything. With a single key you used to be able to get all over the back hallways, but now with new electronic locks it’s a lot harder.

  3. Truly eerie! Not only are the organisms and artifacts plucked out of their natural environment, but they have not yet fulfilled the museum purpose. In limbo. As the photographer says, “The objects are not just scientific objects, but wrapped in cultural tissue.”

  4. Both the slide show and the article are brilliant, both in their contents and in their compositions. I count myself very fortunate to work in the Natural History Museum in London and not a day goes by when I don’t wish I had more time …time to wander around with my camera, photographing the same sorts of multi-layered, beautifully quirky scenes that you have captured so well here. Just the other day I found myself looking at a small, freestanding sign that had clearly once belonged somewhere else but had been moved into a hallway for disposal. It said, simply, “spirit building” and had an arrow pointing away down a generic-looking corridor, leading even further into the bowels of the museum. You’ve got me thinking I should perhaps start a new series of blog posts along these lines…

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