Special Exhibition“Megalomania Botany”


Simply huge. No more explanation needed.
They fascinate and overwhelm us. A single reason to that: their sheer size.

What happens when we bring objects from the natural world into a museum exhibition space? The intent of the present exhibition is to experiment with this issue, by making dried specimens out of huge plant leaves, framing them and exhibiting them. When showing huge leaves as a pictorial work, the gigantism proper to the natural world becomes evident. However, with tropical plant leaves reaching a total length of five metres from the stalk to the tip of the leaf, it is almost impossible to produce a dried specimen which preserves the leaf’s original form. Even if that were possible, the specimen being too large, its conservation and management would be most impractical. For this reason, botanists have cut huge leaves in several parts so that they fit a standard sheet, conserving such specimens as a set. However, such a method does not convey the scale of the specimen. We have opted for a different method: to exhibit the wonders of nature full size, without reducing them, and by retaining their original form. By resorting to such a method, we can directly convey the productive power and the gigantism proper to living organisms, without the need for words. Still, the actual process of transforming the raw plants into specimens was much lengthier than expected. We needed to standardize the thickness of the plant specimen, and dry it promptly. The fruits of such a process, seemingly easy but most difficult in practice, are shown here, for you to appreciate not only the strange forms proper to gigantic leaves, but also the transience of these organisms.

[Organizer] The University Museum, the University of Tokyo (UMUT)

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