How can museums of natural history react to climate change and the loss of genetic diversity? What does it mean to preserve, prepare and present a natural history collection while taking topical aspects like climate justice and the challenges of the Anthropocene into account? The seminal idea for the exhibition was the 160th anniversary of the publications of the Darwin-Wallace Papers, a central treatise of biology. The natural scientist Alfred R. Wallace embarked on several expeditions to South America and Asia in the 19th century. He collected tropical fauna, documented the biological diversity he found there, and deciphered the mechanisms of natural selection. His collection is regarded as the foundation of his ground-breaking theories. There is debate, however, as to whether such discoveries would even be possibly today in view of the fact that the ecological system of the rainforest has been largely destroyed due to deforestation and its conversion to monoculture plantations. The curators plan to present current research findings, historical archive materials from natural history collections around the world, and contemporary works of art. The artworks will shed light on the legacy of European colonialism in the tropics and draw attention to some of the radically transformed landscapes of the Amazon and the Malay Archipelago. In this way the exhibition attempts to compare Wallace’s naively idyllic impressions with present-day images and enable visitors to grasp the impact of environmental change.
Artistic directors: Anna-Sophie Springer, Etienne Turpin (CA/ID)
Research advisors: Matthias Glaubrecht, Felix Sattler, Frank Steinheimer
Artists: Maria Thereza Alves, David Attenborough, Ari Bayuaji, Ursula Biemann, Bik Van der Pol, Shannon Lee Castleman, Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, Mark Dion, Radjawali Irendra / Akademi Drone Indonesia, Tim Laman, Armin Linke mit Giulia Bruno und Giuseppe Ielasi, Barbara Marcel, Julian Oliver & Crystelle Vũ, PetaBencana.id, Robert Zhao Renhui / The Institute of Critical Zoologists, SHIMURAbros, Ed Scholes und autonoma / Paulo Tavares.