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"Fern Leaf"
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"Double Image"
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“Behind the Scenes at PRI”: Susan Verberg, a former Dutch natural history museum collections manager, explores the PRI collections "in situ" and assembled a group of photographs that show the beauty of the specimens as part of a larger collection.

    To me photography is the most realistic medium in the art world: the image is caught in an instant, a moment, permanently fixed in time. Staying focused and keeping an eye open for opportunities allows me to capture these moments and share them with others. Before exploring the visual boundaries of photography I worked as a collection manager at the Dutch National Museum of Natural History "Naturalis" in Leiden. And as always I was more intrigued by the collections behind the scenes than the beautiful esthetically displayed objects in the public collection. As if the perfect light and perfect condition take away from the idea, the science, behind the specimens that are kept for their scientific value instead of their esthetic looks. And wherever I go, I always prefer the look behind the scenes.

    On my first visit to PRI my friend, at that time working at PRI, introduced me to the collection behind the scenes. When she asked me to assemble a collection of images for the last art show in the old building I knew I wanted to take them "in situ", the way they are displayed in the collection with their multitude of shapes and sizes, glass vials, slides and cardboard storage boxes. Maybe not as visually pleasing as a perfect fossil in perfect light, but definitely more a view of the true collection and what it has to offer to an unsuspecting visitor.

    The black & white negatives are hand printed by the artist, facilitated by Cayuga Color Lab, using special Kodak Metallic color paper to create the special tonal effects and the high depth and contrast.

Susan Verberg
March 20, 2003

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