Broad Art Museum Combines Art With Chemistry In New Exhibition

Broad Art Museum Combines Art With Chemistry In New Exhibition

As part of the new “2116: A Forecast of the Next Century” exhibit, MSU’s Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum’s co-curator Caitlín Doherty and exhibit preparator Cory VanderZwaag joined Dr. Joseph Ward from MSU’s Department of Chemistry to execute a crystal forming process for one piece in the collection, a re-creation of a Victorian stormglass barometer that helped guide Charles Darwin on his travels aboard the HMS Beagle.

“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.

The liquid within the glass is a mixture of several ingredients: distilled water, ethanol, potassium nitrate, ammonium chloride, and camphor. This specific mixture was developed by Admiral Robert FitzRoy and used on HMS Beagle.

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. “It was just magical to see him [Dr. 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.”

“2116: A Forecast of the Next Century” opened on Nov. 5 and will be on display at the Broad Art Museum until April 2, 2017.