When I was studying Museum Practice last year, I was baffled that the line was very firmly drawn down the middle of gallery vs museum. Art vs Science. I was the only one who liked both areas equally. I heard various words being tossed about like ‘boring’, ‘old’, ‘stuffy’, and my favourite was ‘arty shit’. (This student was a bit special. We still share war stories.)

To this end, I actually completed two internships – one in a small, funky, artist-run gallery (hiya Monstrosity!) and one at the very old and hallowed State-run natural history museum. Both were equally enriching, challenging and fulfilling and I was incredibly privileged to be able to share in two very different but amazing environments. I learned a huge amount from both – from the gallery, I learned how to use a Mac, design rubbish flyers and then watch them become beautiful, and how to throw a great opening. From the museum, I learned a ton of megafauna taxonomy, specifically the Macropodidae family, and how exciting it really is to find a holotype specimen that had been missing for over a decade, which was a feat I achieved inadvertently.

What causes this divide? Is it art’s intangible nature? Its subjective, illogical and boundless freedom? Is it science’s hard logic and staid, definite structure? Is it the charts, tables and the endless methodical reporting of men in white coats?

Modern galleries and museums are no fools. Art and science have been entwined for many years. Indeed, any design and technology institution, it could be argued, has already married the two. Science museums are filled with natural history artwork and photographs, schoolchild animal design and naming competitions, and you can buy the Periodic Table as a shower curtain these days. Galleries can display the most beautiful examples of the understanding (or distortion) of anatomy, artists of old sketching and painting new species in watercolours, today’s artists rendering 3D models of buried dinosaur footprints, or there’s always pickled sharks (although I admit that calling Damien Hurst an artist is a bit of a stretch).

In my mind, the two are inextricably linked. From the chemical composition and knowledge needed to make art materials, and make them work together, to the pure creativity using scientific knowledge Dimitri Mendelev displayed when he put together the Periodic Table, it’s a natural coupling, even though in some circles they are completely disparate, or even opposite.

Art and science are not mutually exclusive, nor should they be. Schoolchildren should not be taught it’s one way or the other. You can (and should) have both. They are mutually inclusive. When artists and scientists work together, they both have much to learn and teach (as do gallery and museum students!). I don’t pretend to know everything about art (like how the Renaissance masters capture light) or science (I will never understand particle physics for as long as I live) but I’ll continue to learn, love and try to understand more about both. And I’ll share this with everyone I can.

So, how about you guys? Are you art, science or both?

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