Do you remember Night at the Museum? Back in 2006, Ben Stiller starred in a little family picture that had as its central premise the idea that the exhibits of the museum in question came to life every night. While dioramas do not themselves animate at night, at least not that anyone can confirm publicly, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University do want to take you behind the scenes with Unnatural History: The Odd and Remarkable Dioramas of Lori Nix.
“We tend to think of anything we see in an institution as being truthful,” says Lori Nix, creator of the exhibit. “I wanted to use that assumption and portray scenes that were almost true.”
As much as museums are bastions of learning, sometimes things aren’t quite what they seem. Especially when it comes to dioramas, the information presented is often subject to tinkering or coloring by the people putting the exhibits together, and Unnatural History seeks to bring this into sharp relief. Nix, a connessiour of museums in general and dioramas in particular, assembled some dioramas of her own to illustrate what could happen (and has, in the past) when things in a given exhibit are less than true.
“The real fun for me is making these faux museum dioramas whose real life intent is to be accurate and factual in what it displays and then purposefully get the science wrong,” Nix said.
To make sure she got the images just right, Nix assembled the dioramas herself, out of materials ranging from wood to foam, within her Brooklyn apartment. She then took a series of 16 black-and-white photographs, helping us see the static subjects of the dioramas emerging, almost lifelike, from their confines. The result really has to be seen to believed. This particular exhibit runs between April 19 and August 2, and is free with museum admission.
What: Unnatural History: The Odd and Remarkable Dioramas of Lori Nix
Where: The Academy of Natural Sciences, 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway
When: April 19 through August 2, 2014
Admission is $15 for adults, $13 for children 3-12, seniors, college students, military. Children under 3 are admitted for free.