Campus News

View Year

Pictures of Plants: Juniata Museum Studies Educators Lecture on Illustrations

(Posted February 11, 2013)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- What did Europeans between 1500 and 1750 think about all the newly discovered species of plants and animals coming from the New World? Their perceptions were colored by the illustrations used to depict these new wonders, according to a lecture to be presented at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 20, in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig center for Science.

The lecture, presented by John E. Simmons, president of Museologica, a museum consulting firm based in Bellefonte, Pa., and Julianne Snider, assistant director of Penn State's Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum and Art Gallery, is free and open to the public. The two visiting lecturers teach Juniata's Museum Education course. The Bookend Seminar series features afternoon lectures each month by Juniata College faculty.

"Illustrating a specimen is a process of abstraction and distillation, beginning with a drawing based on direct observation or on the illustrator's graphic interpretations of someone else's observations"
John Simmons, Museologica president

The talk, "Observation and Distillation: Preservation, Depiction and Perceptions of Nature," will show how illustrations of New World species can be used to make determinations on how specimens were preserved and how the artist's materials plays a role in how these new species were understood.

"Illustrating a specimen is a process of abstraction and distillation, beginning with a drawing based on direct observation or on the illustrator's graphic interpretations of someone else's observations," Simmons writes. By documenting a specimen's features and physical condition, historians and observers can determine the role preservation technology and art materials played in understanding these new species.

Simmons opened Museologica in 2007 and has been adjunct curator of collections at the Earth and Mineral science Museum and Art Gallery since 2007. He has taught the museum education course at Juniata since 2010.

He earned a bachelor's degree in 1976 in systematics and ecology from the University of Kansas and went on to earn a master's degree in 1988 in historical administration and museum studies from the same institution.

He was director of the museum studies program at the University of Kansas from 2001 to 2007. He also was collections manager for the university's Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Center from 1981 to 2007.

Snider has been assistant director at Penn State's Earth and Mineral Science Museum since 2006, where she manages the Steidle art collection, historic mining artifacts and geologic collections. Before coming to Penn State, she was president and CEO of Visual Science Inc., in Boulder, Colo.

She has been a lecturer at Juniata since 2010, and has taught at the National University of Colombia, in Bogata.

She earned a bachelor's degree in art history in 1976 from Indiana University-Bloomington, and went on to earn a degree in scientific illustration in 1979 from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. She also earned a graduate certificate in museum collections management in 2008 from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

She is a member of the American Association of Museums, the Guild of Natural Science Illustrators and the Small Museum Association.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.