The Natural History Museum

The Art & Illustration Gallery

The Natural History Museum houses the most extensive and diverse collection of natural history art and illustration in the world. These works range from quirky and colourful paintings of unusual animals to dramatic portrayals of lost wildernesses by artists such as Aubrey Williams, John James Audubon and William MacGillivray. A new Art & Illustration Gallery will enable the NHM to display this important collection to the public for the very first time in the Museum’s history.

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The Art and Illustration Gallery will celebrate the skill of some of the greatest natural history artists and create a space for the public to appreciate some of their most stunning work. Through a range of exhibits and interactive media, the gallery will explore the role of art in natural history, and promote the skills of close observation which are essential to artist and scientist alike. By actively encouraging visitors to take up pencil and paper, to draw an exhibit and to interact with artworks through audiovisual media , the Art and Illustration Gallery will aim to be one of the most family-friendly art galleries in the world. The Natural History Museum’s collection is a treasure house of natural history art, and the history of natural history exploration. The earliest drawings in the Museum’s collection date back to the 15th Century while the most recent acquisition was produced in 2007. The collection includes sketches, line drawings, anatomical, zoological and botanical art as well as portraits and photographs. All media are represented from ink, graphite, watercolours and oils to techniques including free-hand, etching, engraving and lithography. Artworks shown in the Gallery will be drawn from the 17th Century through to contemporary studies of natural life and will include watercolours, prints, and oils. Exhibits will most likely include the oil paintings of Aubrey Williams, a founding member of the Caribbean artist movement. Other artists who may be represented include John James Audobon, as well as some of the most significant collectors in natural history, including Sir Hans Sloane and Sir Joseph Banks. In order to open the Gallery to the public in Autumn 2010 the Museum needs to raise a further £100,000.