Exhibition “The Whole of Nature”: Science Meets Art

From 30 November 2022 to 27 August 2023
at the Museum der Natur Hamburg

How do we visualise movement in nature? In this map, animals that have been equipped with transmitters by researchers “draw” the maps themselves. Researchers can thus observe the movements of animals on land, in water and in the air. © MPI für Verhaltensbiologie & Partner, Karte: NASA‘s Earth Observatory


From the medieval “Wimmelbild” to the depiction of digitally simulated natural phenomena: The special exhibition “The Whole of Nature – Forces, Orders, Boundaries” at the Museum der Natur Hamburg shows historical and current examples of how nature can be meaningfully ordered and depicted as a whole. The combination of scientific and artistic representations encourages a change of perspective. The exhibition is a joint project of the Museum der Natur Hamburg and the University of Hamburg. It will be open to the public from 30 November 2022.

The exhibition is an exemplary ride through the history of European science over the past centuries. In reproductions of important historical and contemporary maps, pictures, family trees, diagrams and other representations, it reflects the knowledge and understanding of nature of the different epochs. Visitors discover both familiar principles of order, such as the family tree, and innovative presentations of data in striking images.

For example, the Ebstorf world map with its Christian cosmos sketches a point of orientation for society in the Middle Ages, while the modern “Mappa Mundi” takes up a topical theme by depicting land area in relation to population size. Charles Darwin’s famous sketch on the theory of evolution and Carl von Linné’s table from his work Systema Na-turae are limited to a sober representation. The contemporary artist Ward Shelley, on the other hand, uses the scientific diagram as an art form to depict the avant-garde art movements in time.

The Museum der Natur Hamburg also becomes an exhibition object in some places: the so-called biodiversity showcase is an example of how we can present biodiversity in the museum.

Anne Merker, Exhibition Concept, Museum der Natur Hamburg (LIB): “The exhibition is primarily intended to inspire further thinking. Visitors are invited to discover similarities and changes in the representations. They can playfully order nature in their own way and find details in the big picture.”

Prof. Dr. Frank Fehrenbach, Co-Speaker of the DFG Research Group “Imaginaries of Power”, University of Hamburg, Department of Art History: “In the scientific examination of nature, pictures also offer the advantage of being able to look at many details at the same time. One of the aims of our exhibition is to show how the ‘artistic’ always intrudes even in seemingly purely factually oriented dia-grammatic representations.”

Dr. Dominik Hünniger, research associate at the DFG Research Group “Imaginaries of Power”, University of Hamburg: “In the exhibition, we explore the question of what people at certain times and in certain places intended with the order they chose in each case. What does this say about their relationship to nature, diversity and the place of people in it? We want to encourage people to discover the mechanisms and ideas behind the orders.”

The exhibition “The Whole of Nature – Forces, Orders, Boundaries” was created as part of the activities of the DFG Research Group “Imaginaries of Force” at the University of Hamburg in cooperation with the Leibniz Institute for the Analysis of Biodiversity Change (LIB). Students from the University of Hamburg prepared the content of the exhibition in two seminars and supported the choice of exhibition objects. Until 27 August 2023, “The Whole of Nature” will be on display in the zoological exhibition of the Museum der Natur Hamburg.

Exhibition venue: Museum der Natur Hamburg – Zoology, Bundesstraße 52, 20146 Hamburg.

Exhibition period: 30 November 2022 to 27 August 2023.

Further information: Special exhibition “The Whole of Nature” : LIB (leibniz-lib.de)

Press contact:

Mareen Gerisch
Head of Communication & Press,
E-mail: m.gerisch@leibniz-lib.de
Phone: +49 40 238 317 908; +49 160 9085 3213


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