Big Botany: Conversations with the Plant World

Sam and Connie Perkins Central Court, 317; Dolph Simons Family Gallery, 316; Estelle S. and Robert A. Long Ellis Foundation Gallery, 315

Big Botany: Conversations with the Plant World explores humankind’s deep connections and fascination with the plant kingdom through artworks from the Spencer Museum’s permanent collection, a number of significant loans, and site-specific commissions by four artists-in-residence: Ackroyd & Harvey,  Sandy Winters, and Mathias Kessler.

The exhibition is organized through several themes: artists' studies of plant forms; historic and contemporary plant lore; ecological sustainability and biomechanical plant hybrids; plants in a post-human world; and works dealing with scientific research on how plants sense the world and communicate. One aim of the exhibition is to cultivate viewers’ empathy for plants by addressing the tendency of humans to dismiss plants as a static backdrop to their fast-paced lives.

Themes in Big Botany are explored further through an exhibition catalogue published by the Museum that includes short contributions from a variety of artists, curators, poets, philosophers, ecologists, and more. Additionally, a research symposium coinciding with the exhibition’s opening brought scholars and researchers together to share their work on plant studies. Dr. Daniel Chamovitz, Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University, delivered the symposium’s keynote lecture titled What a Plant Knows on March 27.


Big Botany is generously supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, the Arts Council State of Vorarlberg, the KU Research Investment Council, the Asian Cultural Council, the Linda Inman Bailey Exhibitions Fund, the International Artist-in-Residence Fund, KU Student Senate, and Friends of the Art Museum.

View the exhibition brochure.

View the exhibition catalogue.

Selected images