institution: San Diego Natural History Museum
category: Exhibition Media or Experience
In August 2016, the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) opened the Eleanor and Jerome Navarra Special Collections Gallery, a new permanent space dedicated to showcasing the holdings of its research library and rare book room. The core exhibition of the new space, Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science, uses library collections to highlight the role of amateur naturalists in the history of science.
Best-known as the author of “The Owl and the Pussycat,” Lear was a nonsense poet who also perfected the art of lithography in service of natural history. Our copy of Thomas Bell’s Tortoises, Terrapins, and Turtles (1872), which features 60 of Lear’s hand-colored lithographs of turtles and tortoises, is displayed alongside a flipbook of Lear’s famous poem “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat” illustrated with his original lithographs. Visitors can touch a real lithography stone and watch a video of Jim Melli—an artist and NAT citizen scientist—demonstrating and explaining the process of lithography. The exhibit team felt it was important to show visitors the lithography process since a majroity of images in books prior to 1900 were lithographs. A Galapagos Tortoise is displayed for visitors to touch. Summative evaluation showed that this exhibit component was stopped at most of all the components in the exhibition.
Media production: Robert Rutherford
Content: Jim Melli, Margaret Dykens, Erica Kelly
Graphic design: Lydia D’Moch
Translation: Ana Martinez
Proofreading: Shelley Chung, Karen Levyszpiro, Claudio Luchina
Media housing fabrication: Kim Blackford
Project management: Beth Redmond-Jones, Bradley Tsalyuk