Natural history is never disappointing.

I recently visited the Fernbank Natural History Museum in Atlanta with some of my Drawing I students for a drawing field trip. I’ve always loved natural history museums so I was pretty excited to see what the collection had to offered. While I somewhat hoped for more dinosaurs overall, I was certainly happy with the collection on view and my students and I enjoyed selecting various artifacts to draw.

One of the best parts of the collection for me personally was the number of Buddhist works from the Mongolian Dynasty exhibition about the life and legend of Genghis Khan. As my current work is bringing in a great deal of Tibetan iconography and symbolism  it was amazing to see historic works like these in person.

Of course, there were way more interesting items then there was time (or physical stamina) available to sketch so – as per usual, I took photos to work from later on.

Jamsran Tsam Mask, 2005

Jamsran Tsam Mask, 2005

Buddhist Box, 1900

Buddhist Box, 1900

Miniature Buddha Painting, c. 18th Century

Miniature Buddha Painting, c. 18th Century

I also quite enjoyed the World of Shells, though there is no connection to the work I’m making at the moment. I’ve simply just always loved the forms and shapes of shells. They were quite enjoyable to draw.

Shells, attained in 18th century

Shells, attained in 18th century

My sketch of various shells.

My sketch of various shells from collection.

And then, there were the dioramas. I find that I look at museum dioramas quite differently after having discovered Diane Fox’s photographic work, which I admire deeply, several years ago when I first started researching and looking into taxidermy in Post-Modern art. Having recently had the opportunity to meet (and present a paper along side) Diane Fox, I suppose it’s natural that in a moment of absolute referential inspiration I took several shots of animals interacting with their illusory environment. I am unsure what to do with these at the moment but I love them regardless.

DioramaStillLife2

StillLife3

StillLife1

StillLife6

And of course… what’s a rewarding trip like without a dead bird or two…

"Please don't touch the exhibition" display case.

“Please don’t touch the exhibition” display case.

An enjoyable time was had by all and if you’re in the Atlanta area and have an afternoon to kill I’d certainly recommend it. There are many aspects of the museum (specifically the outdoor trails, gardens, and the entire 3rd floor) that I didn’t have time to cover but I’m confident that there’s a little something for everyone, including a vegan hummus wrap in the museum cafe.

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