Broad Art Museum combines art with science in new exhibition

Posted at 11:14 AM, Nov 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-14 11:14:58-05

The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum made preparations for its newest exhibition in an unlikely location: a Michigan State University chemistry lab.

As part of the new “2116: A Forecast of the Next Century” exhibit, co-curator Caitlín Doherty and exhibit preparator Cory VanderZwaag joined Joseph Ward from MSU’s Department of Chemistry to execute a crystal forming process for one piece in the collection.

“It was a really nice opportunity to see that collision of art and science in a very direct and tangible way, and a collaboration that crossed campus,” Doherty said.

In partnership with the Lewis Glucksman Gallery at the University College Cork, Ireland, the exhibit marks the centennial of Ireland’s Easter Rising, an event widely recognized as the catalyst to the country’s independence. Rather than reflecting on the past, the exhibit features the work of 16 Irish artists illustrating their visions for the country’s next 100 years.

The collaboration between the Broad Art Museum and the Department of Chemistry started when Irish artist Ruth Lyons sent over a list of chemical ingredients and directions for creating her stormglass piece. Based on a Victorian, stormglass barometer that helped guide Charles Darwin on his travels aboard the Beagle, Lyons’ work reflects the arbitrary nature of trying to predict the future.

“It was just magical to see him [Joseph Ward] working away on everything,” Doherty said. “Working here on an exhibition of contemporary art within our museum space is no longer an insular thing. In fact, it connected us directly with professors across campus, departments we have never been in and resources which are right here on campus. That level of expertise was just tremendous.”

The museum has a natural partnership with MSU’s art-focused colleges such as the Department of Art, Art History and Design, but this isn’t the Broad’s first or last time working with a science department. Moving forward, Doherty said the museum hopes to collaborate with other disciplines that may seem “divorced from art” at first.

“It’s the same creative process, that sense of inquiry that is fueling all these different endeavors across campus,” she said. “Thinking about how works connect these different disciplines in a way that’s meaningful is something we’re doing all the time.”

“2116: A Forecast of the Next Century” opened on Nov. 5 and will be on display at the Broad Art Museum until April 2.