19 May 2017 20 Aug 2017
Manchester, United Kingdom
George Loudon’s private collection of unusual, often bizarre 19th century life science teaching objects are now on display at the UK’s largest university museum, Manchester Museum.
The prolific London-based art collector has been obsessed with the hunt since age eleven, starting with carpentry tools, on to political prints, Chinese earthenware, contemporary art, and now these incredible Victorian scientific models and illustrations. We had the pleasure of visiting the extraordinary show last week.
Aside from being a weird and wonderful collection of glass, velvet, and wax things, what’s so interesting about these objects is how they’ve changed over time. Over a hundred years ago, they were used to teach students how plants, animals, and bodies function. Now we can simply look at them, and appreciate them for their aesthetic beauty.
On display are the highly-acclaimed Blaschka glass models, created by German glassworkers Leopold Blaschka and his son Rudolf. These incredibly detailed models of soft-bodied animals allowed 19th century scientists to record these fascinating creatures at a time when underwater photography was not yet available.
One of the parts I enjoyed most was The Lanterium, and not just because you can take selfies in there(!) This corner of the room is lit up with old university lecture slides – pyramids, microscopic cells, reptiles, dinosaurs, and such. They are made of photographic film mounted to glass, some hand-coloured.
When asked his main motivation behind collecting, Loudon said simply it was in the blood. This exhibit is for the curious… and those who like looking at incredibly wonderful objects.
The father-son team made thousands of glass models over the course of their career.
Incredibly realistic mushroom models made of velvet
Popup human anatomy book, featuring Edwardian moustache
Annette in the "Wunderkammer"
Object Lessons at the Manchester Museum
19 May - 20 August 2017
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