Heavens: Photographs of the Sky & Cosmos

June 15, 2011—November 13, 2011

Nelson-Atkins Building, Gallery L11
Free admission

The sun. The clouds. The moon. The stars. For more than 150 years, photographers have looked to the heavens for inspiration and personal expression.

With the invention of the telescope, whose scientific significance was undeniable, photographers were afforded a new way of looking at the seemingly constant sun, moon, and planets. Space exploration, too, allowed views of distant worlds unseeable to the naked eye. The strange beauty and inherent wonder of the craters on the moon, spots on the sun, or distant constellations gave astronomical photographs an appeal outside the realm of pure science.

Some photographers are captivated by the cyclical rhythms of the sky; the changing position of the moon and stars captured over a series of evenings. Similarly, others investigate the passing of time by following the predictable but often unnoticed trek of the sun across the sky.

Conceptually, photographers explore the different sides of photographic representation; some trick the viewer by confusing the real and the fictitious, others depict covert satellites that could be mistaken for ordinary constellations. Likewise, the shape-shifting clouds offer unending opportunity for personal interpretation.

Exhibition Programs

In the Still of the Night: Art and Equinox Stargazing
Friday, September 23
6–6:30 p.m. Presentation
Atkins Auditorium
6:30–8:30 p.m.
Kansas City Sculpture Park, South steps

Join curator Jan Schall for a close look at the mystery and meanings of night, as revealed in works of art from the Nelson-Atkins collection. Then explore the night sky through telescopes focused on our moon, planets and stars. Members of the Kansas City Astronomical Society are our guides!

Book Display and Resource List
Looking at the Heavens: Images of the Sky in Art

In conjunction with the photography exhibition Heavens, a book display is currently on view in the Museum's Spencer Art Reference Library. For further exploration, a Library Guide has also been compiled.

Library Reading Guide

Image: Mark Klett, American, b. 1952. Six Quarter Moons, 3/12/05, 2005. Split-toned gelatin silver print, ed. 12/20. Sheet: 7 1/4 x 9 inches (18.42 x 22.86 cm). Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, 2010.18.14.

This exhibition is supported by the Hall Family Foundation and the Campbell-Calvin Fund and Elizabeth C. Bonner Trust for exhibitions.

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