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The Art of Transformation: The Life and Work of Maria Sibylla Merian (lecture)

Date: Thursday, June 19, 2008
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Getty Center, Harold M. Williams Auditorium
Admission: Free; reservations required.

Learn about the extraordinary adventures and discoveries of Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717), subject of the exhibition Maria Sibylla Merian & Daughters: Women of Art and Science and a pioneer in art and science at a time when both fields were dominated by men.

Kim Todd, author of the book Chrysalis, Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis, describes Merian's art, scientific investigations, and dramatic life story, including her daring move to Suriname to study its astounding insects and amphibians. Richard Price, an anthropologist who has conducted research in Suriname for 40 years, then introduces the cultures and terrain that Merian would have encountered in this new world.

About Maria Sibylla Merian
Maria Sibylla Merian was a pioneer in the fields of art, science, and business. As a girl she horrified her respectable middle-class mother by raising and observing caterpillars, moths, and butterflies, and by the age of 13 she had already observed the metamorphosis of a silkworm—a discovery that pre-dated published accounts by almost ten years. In her 30s she published the results of her studies as The Caterpillar Book, which shed light on the little-studied process of metamorphosis and helped to disprove the once-common belief that insects developed spontaneously from decaying matter. At age 52, Merian sold her earthly possessions and set sail for Suriname, where she created pioneering field studies that laid the groundwork for her masterwork The Insects of Suriname, one of the greatest illustrated natural history books of all time.

Garden Hyacinth with Metamorphosis of Garden Tiger / Merian

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The Getty Center is located at 1200 Getty Center Drive in Los Angeles, California, approximately 12 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. See Hours, Directions, Parking for maps and driving directions.

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