Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Artists as Public Programmers: for Microscopy?

By Maria Mortati, Sr. Exhibit Developer
Last weekend, I attended and participated in the most recent "Critter Salon" event put on by bio-artist Phil Ross. It was billed as the "Enormous Microscopic Evening", with microscopes and microscopers of all shapes, sizes, abilities and technologies.
It was FREE and the event was packed.
This was a great example of the power of providing multiple access points to a complex topic. It created excitement and fostered understanding while also celebrating the simple beauty of the practice of microscopy.
It also showed how an artist makes a great public programmer by bringing together disparate yet similar groups under one roof through their own interest and their ability to communicate.
In addition to being able to get hands-on with technology from the following groups...
  • Exploratorium’s Living Systems Department
  • Carnegie Institute for Science’s Department of Plant Biology
  • Fletcher Lab from UC Berkeley
  • SF Microscopical Society
  • Merritt College Microscopy Program
  • Thomas Zimmerman
...Phil also had a small "build your own microscope station" (which yours truly worked at). This was made up of 2 lightboxes, plants cut from outside, a glue gun and parts and lenses from disposable cameras Phil got from Walgreens. I made well over a dozen mini-microscopes for delighted kids and adults.
All photos courtesy of Phil Ross.

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