Since the 1990s art has become an important mediator between science and the public and science has become a cultural agent whose activities are characterised by aesthetic and perceptual concerns. The “visual turn” that interested the humanities in the 1990s,interested the hard sciences too. Images became increasingly important not only inside the scientific laboratory, but also as a means to reach the lay public(s) and engage them with STS. Responding via their role as institutions concerned with public communication and engagement with science, museums of science and  ience centres also devote attention to images and the design of exhibits. The cross-fertilization between science, the arts and design is promoted not only through artist-scientist collaboration, but also through curatorial practices that merge the history and practice of science with aesthetical concerns.

The discipline of contemporary aesthetics has no shared agenda or set of questions that should define its field of investigation. Nevertheless, the primacy of perception over cognition in aesthetic experience and the critical reflection on notions of representation and image are examples of issues that are at stake in scholarly reflection in aesthetics, especially from a continental perspective. The term aesthetics can be used in two ways: first, aesthetics is a discipline concerned with the senses and the perceptual apprehension of forms; second, aesthetics is a  iscipline concerned with the appreciation and nature of beauty, art and taste.

This paper focuses on one case study, the recently refurbished Museum of Natural History in Venice (MNH), where I am completing a research project on adult visitors supported by the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice. Founded in 1923 and housed in the Fontego dei Turchi, MNH contains a wide range of naturalist collections of great importance from a historical and scientific point of view. The first section is dedicated to fossils and paleontology, the second describes the evolution of the practice of collecting from the underkammer to the birth of scientific museology; the third offers a different  nterpretation of the complexity of living forms, analyzed through the survival strategies developed by plant and animal species during evolution.

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Performing the aesthetics of science
Visitors’ speech, movements and gestures in the Museum of Natural History in Venice

Silvia Casini   Ca’ Foscari University, Venice

Since the 1990s art has become an important mediator between science and the public and science has become a cultural agent whose activities are characterised by aesthetic and perceptual concerns. The “visual turn” that interested the humanities in the 1990s,interested the hard sciences too. Images became increasingly important not only inside the scientific laboratory, but also as a means to reach the lay public(s) and engage them with STS. Responding via their role as institutions concerned with public communication and engagement with science, museums of science and  ience centres also devote attention to images and the design of exhibits. The cross-fertilization between science, the arts and design is promoted not only through artist-scientist collaboration, but also through curatorial practices that merge the history and practice of science with aesthetical concerns.

The discipline of contemporary aesthetics has no shared agenda or set of questions that should define its field of investigation. Nevertheless, the primacy of perception over cognition in aesthetic experience and the critical reflection on notions of representation and image are examples of issues that are at stake in scholarly reflection in aesthetics, especially from a continental perspective. The term aesthetics can be used in two ways: first, aesthetics is a discipline concerned with the senses and the perceptual apprehension of forms; second, aesthetics is a  iscipline concerned with the appreciation and nature of beauty, art and taste.

This paper focuses on one case study, the recently refurbished Museum of Natural History in Venice (MNH), where I am completing a research project on adult visitors supported by the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage at Ca’ Foscari University, Venice. Founded in 1923 and housed in the Fontego dei Turchi, MNH contains a wide range of naturalist collections of great importance from a historical and scientific point of view. The first section is dedicated to fossils and paleontology, the second describes the evolution of the practice of collecting from the underkammer to the birth of scientific museology; the third offers a different  nterpretation of the complexity of living forms, analyzed through the survival strategies developed by plant and animal species during evolution.

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