June 11, 2018

Museum of Natural History to Exhibit Rare Treasures from its Antique Print Collection Starting June 22

From June 22 to September 3, the John and Peggy Maximus Gallery at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History will exhibit fifty rare historic prints from its unique collection of more than 3,500 engravings and lithographs relating to the history of scientific research and exploration. The collection spans the period from approximately 1600 to 1900 and encompasses all subjects of natural history.

The purpose of natural history art is to assist the scientist in their work to identify, describe, classify, and name species. Many of the illustrations were made during an era in which the world’s flora and fauna were being described for the first time. As European voyages sailed to new lands beyond the boundaries of the known world, naturalists aboard documented their findings—and brought back vast collections of plants and animals new to science. Because images captured nature in ways that complemented written descriptions, a visual record became an essential element of this process. These detailed illustrations were published in significant numbers so that others could share information.

Maximus Gallery Curator Linda Miller shares, “these unique works give us a glimpse into history and how the sciences developed. For our summer show, we selected images that correlate to the Museum’s extensive natural history collections of more than 3.5 million objects. These objects, including our antique prints, are used for research by our curatorial staff as well as visiting scientists from around the world. They provide valuable data and serve as a vast archive for ongoing investigations.”

What began as a fundamental aid to scientific inquiry became prized works in themselves and were sought after for their intrinsic beauty—a blend of art and science.

Entry to the summer exhibit The Art of Natural History: Rare Treasures from our Antique Print Collection is free with paid Museum admission. The Maximus Gallery is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, except for June 30 when the Museum will host the sold out Santa Barbara Wine + Food Festival.

About the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

Powered by Science. Inspired by Nature. Founded in 1916, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History inspires a thirst for discovery and a passion for the natural world. The Museum seeks to connect people to nature for the betterment of both, and prides itself on being naturally different. For more information, visit www.sbnature.org.

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