I love going to museums! I love seeing all kinds of amazing art and artifacts, learning more about an artist or piece of history, and making new discoveries.
Unfortunately, even in the museum-rich city where I live, it can be hard to see all the exhibits that come through, or even get to museums due to transportation or high cost (I’m not saying they’re wrong to charge those rates, I’m just saying if many kids had to pay $20 to look at art vs. $13 for a blockbuster film, I can guess which they’d choose).
Where I grew up the idea of a museum was a stuffy warehouse filled to the brim with items with minimal labeling and no context.
On either end of the spectrum, it can make art and history hard to engage with for many.
Now, Google has an app that is trying to address this divide.
Google has just unveiled a new app that makes it as easy to find the opening times of your local museum as it is to figure out who painted that bright purple Impressionist masterpiece you saw five years ago at the Louvre.
It’s called Google Arts & Culture, and it’s a tool for discovering art “from more than a thousand museums across 70 countries,” Google writes on its blog. More than just an online display of art, though, it encourages viewers to parse the works and gather insight into the visual culture we rarely encounter outside the rarified world of brick-and-mortar museums.
Most teens and young adults have smartphones.
This is a great way to bridge that gap between access points and give everyone the ability to geek out over Claude Monet or Alfred Stieglitz, or actually figure out who those two dudes are.
There’s old music, and then there’s oooollldd music. 2,500 years old.
Music scholars are recreating ancient Greek songs that haven’t been heard for thousands of years. The results aren’t very inspiring, but we’re finally getting a sense of what the ancients were listening to.
Recreating music is a daunting task for historians and musicologists, especially considering that formal music notation wasn’t developed until much later.
Thankfully, these researchers have some clues to go by. And this is precisely what Oxford musician and classics expert Armand D’Angour has been studying.In a recent BBC article written by D’Angour, he points out that the epics of Homer, the love-poems of Sappho, and the tragedies of Sophocles and Euripdes were all originally sung to music performed on the lyre, reed-pipes, and various percussion instruments.
“The rhythms – perhaps the most important aspect of music – are preserved in the words themselves, in the patterns of long and short syllables.”
…Geologists have been less concerned with accounting for Pangea’s placement of countries than its placement of continents. In response, Massimo Pietrobon redrew the map of Pangea, painstakingly accounting for the political boundaries that separate us today. And what he rendered is astounding to ponder.
You may have heard of indoor clouds – even happening in your own car due to the air conditioner suddenly changing temperatures. Artist Berndnaut Smilde has taken this phenomenon indoors for all to see.
Anyone who has tried drawing or painting clouds knows that they’re incredibly difficult to reproduce in pictorial form. Well, that can’t actually be tougher than making them, right? In the last few years, artist Berndnaut Smilde has made a name for himself as a sculptor of clouds. His Nimbus series captures the fleeting “manmade” cloudage that he has created inside old gallery halls. They last for a moment, and then, just like that, they’re gone.
Smilde’s magical powers are little more than elementary science. “It’s not a high-tech process at all,” he tells Co.Design. After settling on the initial idea (“Would it be possible to exhibit a raincloud?”), he experimented with several materials, including aerogel, a porous substance that has been likened to “frozen” or “solid” smoke. It wasn’t quite right, though. Eventually, Smilde found himself working with a smoke machine after realizing that it created vapor that had a visual resemblance to clouds–and that the results were relatively easy to control.
Dressed in a white lab coat, Bahl bills his work as "post-osteological interpretation." Basically, he’s built both skeletal monsters, and an ostensibly real research history to go with them. This creature, for instance, is a Chalicotherium laurentian. She is an adult female, part of a trio of fossil animals that includes an adult male and a juvenile. Here’s Bahl’s statement on the C. laurentian family.
Discovered in 1887 by Harold Vanselow, a maverick dinosaur hunter and at one time a member of the Othniel Charles Marsh team from the Yale Peabody Museum, this Chalacothere was named appropriately enough after the Laurentian Divide in Northern Minnesota where tributaries of the St. Lawrence River divide and flow in two directions.
Dating from the Miocene era, the bones of these creatures retain the rich, deep color of the Iron Range where they once roamed in large herds. The purpose of the male’s secondary head has been much debated, some experts believing it to be fully functional while others maintain it was most probably used in the mating ritual.
Research indicates that the family grouping seen here was first exhibited in the late 19th Century at a private museum in London and assembled by Walter Vernon, the well-known enfant terrible of those early years of prehistoric osteological display. Vernon’s philosophy was explained in a lengthy article which appeared in 1901. He stated that he felt his specimens acknowledged not only the accurate presentation of a skeleton, but the millions of years that the bones had been part of the earth itself and the impact the internment had on them. "Tribute must be paid to the beauty given to these beasts by the greatest of artists — time."
The exhibit caused a furor in scientific circles largely because no other specimens or even fragments had been unearthed. It was both hailed as a work of art and villified as "expressionistic". Matters were complicated further by the disappearance of Vanselow’s notebooks and meticulously detailed maps. The exhibit vanished in 1904 after fire destroyed the hall in which it was housed, and as if by unspoken agreement it was quietly forgotten.
Then, in 1994, the bones were rediscovered embedded in the foundation of a home in South St. Paul, Minnesota. They had been packed in crates originating in Prague circa 1914 and, since the house had been built in 1939, it is not known where the remains of this might species had been kept. Although some structural repairs were necessary, the specimens are otherwise presented here in the splendidly ancient condition in which they were found.
Design*Sponge is featuring a very cool book today that contains illustrations from science textbooks and educational charts over the 19th and 20th century, curated specifically for their aesthetic value.
Design*Sponge contributor Amy Azzarito writes:
I’m 100% certain that if the education charts in my junior high science class looked like those found in this book, I would have gotten a much better grade. A few years ago, I hunted down a chart of sea plants in Paris found at the most magical of natural history stores, Deyrolle. It is still one of my favorite pieces of art. Katrien Van der Schueren, owner of voila! Gallery in Los Angeles, has been collecting educational charts for over a decade. In this volume, Katrien compiled over 100 of these vintage educational posters for the Art of Instruction. The book’s charts cover subjects ranging from the anatomy of a tulip or apple tree to that of a hedgehog or starfish. The book is just now available for pre-order.
Van de Schueren, the author of the book, is also hosting a giveaway:
To celebrate the book’s launch, Katrien is gifting one lucky reader the chart depicted on the book’s cover! To enter, just leave a comment below describing your favorite poster from childhood; it doesn’t have to be an instructional poster.
Science Fiction is not just cheesy aliens popping up out of burning wreckage or traveling to Mars; it offers us a glimpse into what is possible for humanity, both good and bad. And who better to explore this than a scientist?
For the past 22 years, he has turned to fiction writing, mostly in the genre of “science-in-fiction,” whereby he illustrates, in the guise of realistic fiction, the human side of scientists and the personal conflicts faced by scientists in their quest for scientific knowledge, personal recognition, and financial rewards.