T is for Translation of Science into Art

| April 22, 2014

I’d like to return to an issue I have previously addressed to provide another valuable example of how aesthetics can come to the aid of science in order to enhance the educational experience. Taking the “Informal Science Education” class held at the American Museum of Natural History was an excellent opportunity for me to assess the impact of aesthetic presentation of material on learning processes. The museum’s latest exhibition, “Pterosaurus: Flight in the Age f Dinosaurs”, offers an example of how different disciplines can collaborate in order to provide the public with a powerful aesthetic experience loaded with educational and, in this case, scientific, value. For this particular exhibition, painters and sculptors have been working in close contact with paleontologists, scientific consultants, graphic designers and filmmakers for over six months in order to give birth to a remarkable set of models depicting prehistoric birds (some as big as 28 feet long). Aside from professionals from the disciplines just mentioned, the work of light and sound designers greatly contributes to the magical atmosphere of this powerful exhibition. I went to see it this week-end, and the heterogeneous crowds gasping in awe at the marvellous display of giant winged creatures gliding over a glimmering plexiglass sea gave me the impression that this is an aesthetic experience they will not forget easily.