The Natural History Museum’s spectacular art collection, one of the largest in Britain, represents works by the world’s greatest natural history artists. Art of Nature selects highlights from more than 500,000 illustrations in the collection to explore the intricate relationship between art and the science of nature over three centuries – from the 1700s to the present day.
Drawings, paintings and sketches of nature combine aesthetic beauty with scientific accuracy, sharply illuminating the close collaboration between artists and western scientists in their endeavours to observe, record and classify nature. The exhibition uncovers the crucial role natural history art has played in increasing our understanding of the natural world, telling fascinating stories of scientific discovery.
Inspired by stories of pioneering artists and naturalists, visitors will understand the importance of illustration in documenting species. Lavish paintings and prints, and insights from the work of modern scientists, trace the development of printing and imaging techniques in producing increasingly accurate records of the world’s changing biodiversity.
Art of Nature is a story the Natural History Museum is uniquely positioned to tell, drawing on our history of research into the diversity of life, and one of the largest collections of natural history artworks on paper. From the classification system developed by Carl Linnaeus in the 1700s, to modern fieldwork and imaging technologies, our scientists continue the work of these pioneering artworks.