Seeing Science: Photography, Science and Visual Culture

seeing science logo 2Interdisciplinary
SEEING SCIENCE: Photography, Science and Visual Culture
Through April 2017

SEEING SCIENCE is an innovative and year-long project that explores:

  • the central and evolving role photography plays in defining, shaping, promoting, and furthering science
  • how images made in and about the sciences impact public opinion and policy, science education, and the news, mass, and social media

The SEEING SCIENCE website features:

  • MINI-EXHIBITIONS of contemporary and historical images made by noted scientists, photographers and artists including: Anna Atkins, Lewis Baltz, Nancy Burson, Robert Rauschenberg, and Carl Strüwe.  New exhibitions will be uploaded weekly.
  • SHORT ESSAYS by science and visual cultural historians, uploaded monthly, address the ways photography and science impact each other and culture at large.
  • WHY WE LOOK, which links to breaking news stories about imaging advances and issues in the sciences twice a week.
  • PICTURING SCIENCE, a year-long project by artist Oliver Wasow, cataloging the eclectic nature of science-related images found on social media and online, is updated weekly.
  • An extensive TIMELINE that charts how science and photography define and propel each other.
  • Provocative QUOTES about the relationship of photography and the sciences, which are published twice a week.
  • SPECIAL PROJECTS that explore and expand upon SEEING SCIENCE themes.


SEEING SCIENCE – Reading the Pictures Salon “How Science is Pictured in the Media” with Rebecca Edelman, UMBC Professor of Media & Communication Studies; Nathan Stormer (Moderator), University of Maine professor and visual scholar; Michael Shaw, publisher, Reading the Pictures; Max Mutchler, Space Telescope Science Institute, Hubble Heritage Project manager; Marvin Heiferman Curator, Project Director “Seeing Science”; Kurt Mutchler, Senior Editor, Science, Photography Department, National Geographic; Corey Keller, Curator, SFMOMA; and Ben de la Cruz, Multimedia Editor, Science Desk, NPR. (December 1, 2016)

SEEING SCIENCE project curator Marvin Heiferman in conversation with Oliver Wasow at SVA. (November 9, 2016)

SEEING SCIENCE project curator Marvin Heiferman and Steel Stillman in conversation at SVA.(October 4, 2016)

Further events are in development and will be announced at a later date.



SEEING SCIENCE Tabloids: An illustrated, 16-page tabloid will be published each semester and distributed free of charge on campus. This fall’s issue, The Scientist, explores how scientists are represented as cultural figures in images ranging from the austere to the humorous.

SEEING SCIENCE: Photography, Science and Visual Culture, an illustrated trade publication to be published in 2017, will document the scope and content of the SEEING SCIENCE project.


SEEING SCIENCE is a University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) project, initiated and produced by the Center for Art, Design & Visual Culture (CADVC) in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President of Research. The project has received additional support from the Maryland State Arts Council and the Baltimore County Commission on the Arts and Sciences. A grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation was instrumental in the development of the project website.

SEEING SCIENCE producer and curator Marvin Heiferman creates projects about photography and visual culture for institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian Institution, International Center of Photography, Whitney Museum of American Art, New Museum and the Carnegie Museum of Art. Heiferman has written for numerous publications, monographs, magazines and blogs, including The New York Times, CNN, Artforum, Design Observer, Gagosian Quarterly, Art in America, and Aperture. Author and/or editor of over two dozen books on visual culture, his most recent book is Photography Changes Everything (Aperture/Smithsonian, 2012). A Visiting Senior Research Scholar at UMBC, Heiferman is also a core faculty member in the School of Visual Arts MFA Program in Photography, Video & Related Media and the ICP/Bard College MFA Program in Advances Photographic Studies in New York.

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