Dioramas for the 21st century at Bell Social

Dioramas for the 21st century at Bell Social

Would you like some wine with your diorama? This Friday, see the Bell Museum as you've never seen it before at an event just for adults with alcohol, donuts, music, and newly commissioned artwork. Bell Social, at the Bell Museum of Natural History, gives you a chance to let your inner scientist run free in a fun event that mixes up science, music, art, and socializing. 

MAW at work in the museum 
MAW at work in the museum 

The Bell Museum began having socials a few years ago in conjunction with the artist residency program that was implemented at the same time. The first social acted as a kind of opening exhibition. "It seemed like a great opportunity to get people into the museum," says Andrea Klaassen, the public relations coordinator for the museum.  

Over the past couple of years, the event has expanded, with the museum adding live music and presenters to talk about different science topics. Last year, the socials began to have art activities as well. 

This semester, the artist group in residence, Minnesota Art on Wheels (MAW), will be showcasing two installations that re-imagine the museum's taxidermy dioramas, some of which are 70 years old. 

Leah Peterson, the adult programs coordinator at the museum, says that MAW will present two re-imagined dioramas. In one, called Borrowed Sound Borrowed Ears, the artists have created images that will be projected onto the original coyote diorama, with an accompanying sound piece where participants listen with a pair of headphones that look like coyote ears (purchased from the website Etsy). 

MAW at work at the Bell Museum of Natural History
MAW at work at the Bell Museum of Natural History

The second piece, called Chimera, involves 3D scanning where animal sculls are attached digitally to human skeleton forms and projected onto virtual diorama backgrounds. Participants can try out the different characters like a Wii game, and play around, dance, or do other movements. 

Peterson says that MAW was interested in re-imagining the dioramas of a traditional museum as a way to update them. "In the age of iPads and flashy digital devices, where do dioramas fit in and where does the natural history museum fit in?" she says.

In addition to the MAW exhibit, Bell Social will also include a conversation-style presentation by two scientists from the department of ecology, evolution, and behavior at the University of Minnesota. Mark Barello will be talking about chimeras in science and mythology, while Marlene Zuk will be talking about the sex life of insects.

The Social will also include a live performance by Rogue Valley, an interactive bird show by the Raptor Center, and special screenings of the Bell Museum ExploraDome. Visitors will have access to all the exhibits in the museum, and there will be Glam Doll donuts, and a beer and wine cash bar. 


Bell Social: art + science + live music
7-10:30 p.m. Friday, December 12
Bell Museum of Natural History
10 Church St. SE, Minneapolis

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Bell Museum of Natural History

10 SE Church St.
Minneapolis, MN 55455



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