Viewing science as art

Research Technician Shamilene Sivagnanam and museum visitors.

On a sunny Saturday this spring, visitors to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art were treated to a dazzling display of scientific images. In collaboration with the Nelson Atkins Innovation Lab, the Rong Li Lab hosted an exhibit of images and videos showcasing marvels of biology such as the structure of tissues, microscopic components of cells, associations between proteins, and cellular movement. The idea behind the event was to bridge the gap between science and art by exposing museum visitors to the natural beauty of science. Rong Li, PhD, explains, “We wanted to use art to draw attention to science. Science is full of amazing colors and shapes, just like in art.”

Vivid images rotated in a larger than life slide presentation where nearby, microscopes were stationed, ready for curious onlookers. Several students and postdoctoral researchers from the lab were on hand to explain the scientific images to unexpecting art patrons. Children and adults alike were mesmerized and intrigued by the visuals but also by the enthusiastic scientists describing their work. “This was a great opportunity for my students and postdocs to present the work that they are proud of to an unfamiliar audience,” says Li.

To learn more about the science and art of the Rong Li Lab listen to a KCUR podcast.