How do we see? And how does what we see influence meaning? We welcome you to a unique exhibit that presents early anatomies of the brain, our still-mysterious seat of consciousness. The exhibit presents woodcut anatomies from the early 1500s to the groundbreaking work of Andreas Vesalius, father of anatomy, in editions of 1543 and 1555, to later texts that take concepts of brain and mind into the future. But the exhibit also asks the viewer to think about how image and understanding work together, and to practice their own ways of “seeing.”
Anatomists and artists worked together to create the amazing woodcuts presented here, but these collaboration were also exercises in interpretation. Try as we might to render exactly what we see, what we see is deeply affected by our own understanding, our prejudices, our preconceived notions. By creating anatomies that brought new anatomical features to light, anatomists and artists help to create new meanings. Once merely a jelly of gray matter, the brain begins to take shape in new ways, to have new and more important place in our understanding. Today, we consider the brain to be the locus of the mind, the self, us. We have only arrived there by seeing the brain more clearly, and through constantly re-evaluating what we see. We invite you, the viewer, to take a similar journey. Each panel will ask you to ponder questions about the visual representation. Join us on a voyage of discovery through woodcut and paint to a better understanding of the brain.