Must See: Unnatural History: The Odd and Remarkable Dioramas of Lori Nix

Dodo birds in the library? Sharks in the hall? It's mayhem at the museum

The more than 35 dioramas of the Academy of Natural Sciences are a fusion of art and science, capturing picturesque scenes like antelope on an African plain. Ever wonder what happens behind the scenes of these stately displays? Unnnatural History: The Odd and Remarkable Dioramas of Lori Nix is a playful photography exhibit of life at a natural history museum. Sharks swim through halls, dodo birds cause havoc in the library and a mastodon curiously looks at photographs of itself mid-assembly.

What inspired nationally renowned photographer Lori Nix to make and photograph the tabletop-sized dioramas? “We tend to think of anything we see in an institution as being truthful. I wanted to use that assumption and portray scenes that were almost true,” Nix said.

The 16 images, to be displayed in the Academy's Art of Science Gallery, feature the rigid exhibit subjects emerging from their displays.

“Lori Nix reveals the inherent artificiality of the natural history dioramas which serious institutions, such as ours, tout as sacred stages of truth and nature,” said Jennifer Sontchi, the Academy’s director of exhibits. "I laughed when I saw her photos, because I saw them in the Academy itself."

Be on the lookout for the diorama created especially to exhibit at the Academy of Natural Sciences.

Unnatural History will be on display from April 19 through Aug. 3, and is free with regular museum admission.