PacSci Perspectives


An Evolving Vision: Exploring Paleo Art

by | Sep 26, 2017

Paleo Art: Triceratops

When you imagine the time dinosaurs roamed the earth, what do you think the world looked like? Maybe your vision stems from watching movies like Jurassic Park, or perhaps it’s from visiting any number of museums that highlight the prehistoric world.

Whatever your interpretation, chances are it’s not entirely scientifically accurate. New discoveries and better investigative tools help scientists continually refine our understanding of the past. Paleo artists bring this work to life by collaborating with scientists to create drawings based on the latest scientific research. At Pacific Science Center you can see some of this work in action through the newest addition to our classic exhibit Dinosaurs: A Journey Through Time.

An Evolving Vision: Exploring Paleo Art showcases work from three artists who recently completed the University of Washington’s Natural Science Illustration program. Illustrations by Keenan Taylor, Zackary Herbst, and Barry Boone—many created specifically for this exhibition—use the original dinosaur exhibit you know and love to explain how our understanding of prehistoric life has advanced. These drawings also give insight into how paleo artists research modern plants and animals to more accurately depict the past.

Paleo Art: T-Rex

Artists have played an important role in the dissemination of dinosaur information since the 1840s, when the first scientifically based dinosaur sculptures were created in London. Early interpretations showed dinosaurs as monsters, but modern artists strive to illustrate them simply as the living creatures they once were.

So, next time you visit us, think about how you imagine dinosaurs looked, and tell us how accurate you were! Are you surprised by the current interpretations? What other ways do you think artists and scientists can collaborate?