‘Unnatural History’ exhibit to open Saturday at Springfield Museum of Art

Dioramas featuring manatees and other exotic taxidermy animals from natural history museums all over the world have been photographed in unique ways and are part of the new exhibit "Unnatural History: Photographs by Diane Fox" opening Saturday at the Springfield Museum of Art. Photo by Diane Fox

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Dioramas featuring manatees and other exotic taxidermy animals from natural history museums all over the world have been photographed in unique ways and are part of the new exhibit "Unnatural History: Photographs by Diane Fox" opening Saturday at the Springfield Museum of Art. Photo by Diane Fox

Sometimes art can make you question what you see. Other times, it can help one see things in a new way.

The Springfield Museum of Art will leave that up to visitors when it unveils its latest exhibition, “Unnatural History: Photographs by Diane Fox” with an opening reception, 5:30-7 p.m. Saturday, March 20.

RSVPs are required for the opening, with timed entry tickets that include a complimentary charcuterie board. Reservations can be made at the SMOA’s events page on its main website at springfieldart.net.

While 30 photographs may not sound like enough to fill the SMOA’s McGregor Gallery, the facility’s largest exhibition hall, consider Fox’s photos are larger-size pictures depicting dioramas of all types of wildlife in various environments on painted backdrops that have taken Tennessee-resident Fox all over the country and internationally to natural history museums where dioramas are plentiful.

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The photos aren’t of live animals but taxidermy figures at the various institutions, shot against painted backdrops but appear realistic. Then by capturing these along with reflections, exit signs and other reminders that it isn’t real adds another whole dimension.

“It looks like you’re looking at real animals. You’re looking at one world while staring at a different one,” said Elizabeth Wetterstroem, SMOA collections and exhibits manager.

Fox wants visitors to be aware all her work in this exhibit is exactly as she photographed them in camera – no PhotoShop, edits, cropping or any other manipulations. As a result, one photo makes it appear the birds in one diorama are staring directly at others in a different display, creating a whole new outlook. Zebras, manatees and narwals are among the exotic creatures depicted

Wetterstroem said she hopes this is another example of how visitors will think about how the real world ties in here.

“This exhibition was interesting because we are an art museum instead of a natural history museum. That brings a different element through the eyes of an artist,” Wetterstroem said. “We hope people will leave with a particular viewpoint of the world and also reevaluate their relationship with the natural world.”

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“Unnatural History” will be on display through July 11. While Fox will not attend the exhibition opening, Wetterstroem said she may appear here at a later date.

The Museum of Art is located at 107 Cliff Park Rd. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and 12:30-4:30 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $5 for adults and free for members and children ages 17-under.

For more information, see the museum’s social media pages.

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