Before returning to the Pacific Northwest in this blog( I plan to write more about the last workshop for the North Cascades Institute in the coming days) I wanted to share one of my favorite exhibits from the American Museum of Natural History. The entire Museum is a feast for any eye--the sheer genius of all the exhibits, the architecture, painted mural backdrops in the dioramas, lettering and presentation, serve as a wonderful education for artists who make any sort of art, two dimensional or three. The Great Hall of African Mammals is a perfect combination of Art Deco (it opened in 1937) and Classical. Above each diorama is a frieze, then the animal is titled below in elegant Roman carved letters, and marble fronts the exhibits. Many schoolchildren were visiting the Museum the day we toured it, and I was really impressed with their excitement over the dioramas. So many museums are turning away from exhibit styles of the past to a more interactive and digital presentation, to engage and educate the young viewers (one of their main missions). But as we walked through the Creatures of Light: Bioluminescence exhibit, fun as it was (but very contemporary, with alot of digital media), I did not hear any of the oohs and aahs from kids that I heard in the great animal dioramas. Proof to me that beautiful art and design continues to move people. One of my favorite displays is the Spectrum of Life, in the Hall of Biodiversity, a 100 foot long installation with 1500 specimens of 28 living groups, reflecting 3.5 billion years of evolution. It's impossible to photograph it, you really have to see it in person, but for me it captures some of the whimsy of the old Cabinets of Curiosities, with countless miraculous creatures all fitted into some order (unlike the Cabinets, which were just full of oddities collected for wealthy patrons). The Spectrum of Life is quite different from the great dioramas--it has an ornamental design quite appropriate to the massive number of specimens--a tapestry with hundreds of threads of life.