Cornell University

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From the Darkness of the Sea: The Cornell Collection of Blaschka Glass Invertebrate Models

Sunday, December 24, 2017 at 10:00am to 2:00pm

Johnson Museum of Art
Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, 114 Central Ave, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

In 1882, at the request of Professor John Henry Comstock and with the support of President Andrew Dickson White, Cornell acquired 570 Blaschka glass sea animals to use in teaching biology. After years of disuse and damage, the collection was put on deposit at the Corning Museum of Glass for conservation, a project overseen today by Professor Drew Harvell, a marine biologist in Cornell’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and the curator of the Blaschka Collection. These exquisitely crafted models, which preserve extinct and endangered animals, provide a rich and irreplaceable resource for current and future generations of students to experience the natural world from an aesthetic, historical, and scientific point of view.

From the Darkness of the Sea includes a selection of Cornell’s precious glass marine animals, many of which are newly restored. The glass models are shown alongside Blaschka drawings on loan from the Corning Museum of Glass and video excerpts of the living examples of these beautiful sea creatures. Today researchers at Cornell use the collection as a time capsule to document marine invertebrates still living in our oceans today. The story of the creation of these glass models and today’s fragile ocean life stimulates broad discussion of pressing contemporary issues such as climate change, warming oceans, and rising sea levels.

This exhibition was curated by Nancy E. Green, the Gale and Ira Drukier Curator of European and American Art, Prints & Drawings, 1800–1945, at the Johnson, and generously supported by Susan E. Lynch.

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Johnson Museum of Art




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