Where Art Meets Science

On September 17, the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, unveiled a new permanent sculpture by world-renowned artist Maya Lin. The sculpture is one component of Lin’s last memorial, “What is Missing?”—a multi-sited, multimedia artwork dedicated to raising awareness about the current crisis surrounding biodiversity and habitat loss. Rethinking the traditional stationary monument, “What is Missing?” will exist in several media and in multiple places simultaneously.

The sculpture consists of a bronze “Listening Cone” lined with reclaimed wood. A screen, located within the cone, features more than 20 minutes of video footage that links extinct as well as threatened and endangered species to the habitats and ecosystems that are vital to their survival. “Underscoring the Academy’s drive to protect the natural world through education and research, the work shows what is being done by research and conservation organizations to address the crisis, as well as what individuals can do in their everyday lives to make a difference,” Lin says. “I believe that art, at times, can look at a subject differently, and in doing so can get people to pay closer attention.”

How science centers can tap into the rich artistic, cultural, and creative resources of their communities is one focus of the 2009 ASTC Annual Conference, “The Art of Science: Creating a Better Future/El Arte de la Ciencia: Hacia un Futuro Mejor.” Click here for more information.

Image courtesy California Academy of Sciences

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