Exploratory Works: Drawings from the Department of Tropical Research Field Expeditions

Exhibition Website

Apr 14 2017 - Jul 16 2017

The Drawing Center

New York City, NY

This exhibition brings to light for the first time an archive of images that illustrate the formation of our modern definition of nature. William Beebe (1877–1962) was one of America's greatest popularizers of ecological thinking and biological science. Beebe literally took the lab into the jungle, rather than the jungle to the lab. The Department of Tropical Research was pioneering in that, under Beebe’s direction, women were hired as lead scientists and field artists. Artist Isabel Cooper, joining in 1919, publicly relished her opportunity to travel through the jungles of Guyana juggling a “vivid serpent or tapestried lizard in one hand, and the best grade of Japanese paintbrush in the other.” 

The structure of The Drawing Center’s exhibition will mirror the two salient stages of the Department of Tropical Research's investigations: jungle field station work and floating laboratories for marine biology — revealing that artists and scientists worked closely and productively in the near past and that scientists once understood art as a valuable tool for promoting ecological thinking to a broad public.

Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website

  • Works on Paper
  • 20th Century
  • Still Life / Botanic
  • William Beebe
  • Isabel Cooper
  • Else Bostelmann Bermuda
  • and others

Exhibition Venues & Dates