Curating Ocean Ecology at the Natural History Museum: Miranda Lowe and Richard Sabin in conversation with Pandora Syperek and Sarah Wade

Pandora Syperek, Sarah Wade, Miranda Lowe, Richard Sabin

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Abstract

The current ecological crisis and the call to decolonise museums can be catalysts for change, manifested both physically through exhibitions or redisplays of historical collections and conceptually through new curatorial approaches or interventions. This interview examines the strategies and considerations involved in a major redisplay at the Natural History Museum, London, in 2017. Here, ‘Dippy’ the Diplodocus was removed from the prime central hall location, causing a furore that soon gave way to celebration of its newly installed resident ‘Hope’ the blue whale, heralding a new paradigm of scientific display where an anthropogenic extinction narrative took centre stage in a world-renowned museum. Alongside the blue whale, a series of ‘Wonder Bays’ were installed which tell stories of evolution, biodiversity and sustainability. Curators Miranda Lowe and Richard Sabin discuss these recent displays in relation to extinction narratives, public ecological awareness, ideals of authenticity and the crossover of art and science. They reflect on how the politics of natural history display extend to broader global issues, including the illegal wildlife trade and decolonising the museum, focusing on presentations of marine life and ocean ecology to reflect their principal areas of expertise and the Natural History Museum’s recent ocean-themed programming.

Original languageEnglish
Article number201314
JournalScience Museum Group Journal
Issue number13
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2020

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