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'21st Century: Art in the First Decade' is an exhibition, publication, blog and series of public programs at the Queensland Art Gallery l Gallery of Modern Art that explore the art of the past ten years. As an expanded platform for the exhibition, the '21st Century Blog' functions as a source book of reference material and contributions provided by artists, curators and writers. Read more

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Justine Cooper | Yellow honeyeaters (Lichenostomus flavus) (from ‘Saved by science’ series) 2005 | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

Justine Cooper ‘Yellow honeyeaters (Lichenostomus flavus)’ (from ‘Saved by science’ series) 2005

In 2003-04, Justine Cooper was artist-in-residence at the American Museum of Natural History, New York. Her access to the Museum’s collections was unprecedented, as she was the first artist-in-residence at the Museum in its almost 150-year history. During the residency Cooper documented the collections and storage areas of the Museum in a series of photographs, Saved by science. A rare glimpse into one of the world’s great natural history museums, these works examine how disparate items collected from the nineteenth century onwards have been transformed into objects of Western scientific knowledge and value.

First collected in 1898 by the Englishman A.S. Meek, these Yellow honeyeater birds ended up in famed collector Lord Walter Rothschild’s collection at Tring. When a wealthy aristocratic former mistress blackmailed him, Rothschild was forced to sell the larger part of his collection to the American Museum of Natural History in 1931 for $225,000, about a dollar per specimen.

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