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Magazine, February 2003
artistic side of biomedical research at the National
Museum of Natural Science
and text by Cheryl Robbins
The National Museum
of Natural Science is currently the location for a unique
exhibition put together with the cooperation of the Wellcome
Trust of England.
Wellcome Trust has its origins in a partnership formed
between two young Americans in nineteenth-century London.
Silas Mainville Burroughs and Henry Wellcome established
a company to promote pharmaceuticals from America on
the UK market. In 1895, Burroughs died, leaving the
company in the hands of his able partner. In addition
to running the pharmaceutical company, Wellcome set
up several research laboratories--a highly original
step at the time. After the turn of the century, he
began to devote more time to his passion of collecting
artifacts related to medicine. In his will, he created
the Wellcome Trust, which continues to carry out his
mission of advancing medical research and research into
the history of medicine.
images on display in this exhibit are from the trust's TwoTen
Gallery, which organized a series of innovative exhibitions
on the relationship between medical science and art. These
images were created during the process of biomedical research
but, at first glance, appear more like modern art, with
unexpected curves, randomly placed dots and strokes and
a closer look and, with the help of the printed explanations,
you will find that you are looking at images of a
human cancer cell, a section of small intestine, a
deadly virus or a brain nerve cell. As this is an
"imported" exhibition, it comes with English
language explanations. Mandarin translations have
been placed next to the English text.
of the images are in color with a few black-and-white
selections, as well as one three-dimensional (3D)
image, and were produced using a variety of techniques.
For example, a scanning electron microscope can capture
color images of the porous bone of an osteoporosis
sufferer, as well as the folds of the small intestine.
This instrument can also be used to view the inside
of a tumor.
of cells can be created by a special contrast microscopy
method, in which colors are produced by light interference
and are related to differences in the thickness of the cell
walls. A complexly beautiful image of a lethal virus can
be produced using X-rays which pass through the virus and
create a pattern on a photographic plate that can be analyzed
by computer to produce a colorful representation of the
virus' 3D structure. However, not all of the images on display
were created by complicated techniques or expensive equipment.
A black-and-white photo of colonies of bacteria seen under
a normal light microscope looks like a priceless string
of the images are "Biomedical Images Award"
winners. Each year, the Wellcome Trust selects biomedical
research images for these awards, based on technical
quality, imaginative or scientific nature of the subject
matter and visual impact. Check out this exhibit and
see for yourself how the human body can become an
Art--Image of Science" Exhibit runs until May
22, 2003 and is located in the special exhibit gallery
to the right of the entrance to the Life Science Hall
of the National Museum of Natural Science.)
Museum of Natural Science
1, GuanChian (KuanChien) Rd.
Tel: (04) 2322-6940 (ask for the information desk)