Specimens from Nature and Time
Posted on September 29, 2017
Sometimes a trip becomes the sum of it’s parts. Images and experiences join together in meaning and memory, much in the way a collection tells a story that is the sum of it’s parts. I just returned from a trip that was the end of an era for me, my grandmother is gone–not a sad occasion because she had a long full life–but a piece of my world is forever changed. I realize that my memories of my life are like my own private collection, always revealing fresh angles and new revelations.
Another aspect of my trip to NY was to attend a fundraiser for the Sir John Soane Foundation, which supports the Sir John Soane Museum in London. We heard some inspiring talks about the importance of his museum, and I think about how interesting it is to be able to view his collection in space and its relation to each other. The next day I had some time and decide to go to the American Museum of Natural History which is near where I had been staying.
I am still thinking about the Soane collection as I wander around the American Museum of Natural History. Sir John Soane claimed as his theme the ‘union of the arts’–and here in the Museum of Natural History it is a union of the world and makes me get lost trying to wrap my mind around the vastness of time and scale. From microbes to whales and into the vastness of space the world stretches in both directions–just like time–and I feel part of a giant history and world–a speck lost in vastness.
Since my arrival several days before, I had been pulled to go to the museum because of the amazing mosaics in the subway stop at 81st street, also a way to enter the museum itself. The 2000 installation For Want of a Nail (2000) was a collaborative effort between MTA Arts for Transit and AMNH designed to reflect some of the themes in the museum.
For Want of a Nail is also the title of an old proverb that speaks to the way in which everything is connected. I love how the subway mosaics are inspired by the collection of the museum. The Soane museum is an inspiration to artists and architects, and hopefully will continue to be through time.