New Book! This Is NOT An Artifact by Rich Pell

“The manipulation of life is one of the oldest and most popularly neglected forms of cultural production. Yet it is evident in prehistoric cave dwellings, organic vegetable gardens, concentrated animal feeding operations, and myriad other sites and scenes. PostNatural History is the study of the origins, habitats, and evolution of organisms that have been intentionally altered by humans through captivity, breeding, or engineering. These lifeforms relay stories that challenge and transform our understanding of human culture.”

This Is NOT An Artifact
catalogs 16 years of investigation by the Center for PostNatural History. Featuring essays and photography by founder Rich Pell, and a catalog of PostNatural organisms featuring contributions by Center for Genomic Gastronomy, Terike Haapoja & Laura Gustafsson, Steve Rowell, Nicholas Daly, Ian Nagoski, Roderick Williams, and Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr. Includes 3D glasses.


“Visually lush and beautifully written... natural history museums would do well to use Rich Pell’s brilliant book as a road map.” 
    - Mark Dion, natural history-artist

“Once you start to see the world of domesticated animals and genetically engineered organisms as postnatural, you won't look back! A fascinating and eccentric read.”
    - Heather Dewey-Hagborg, bio-artist

“A beautiful and intensely thought-provoking guidebook to the marvels, disquietudes, and absurdities of a world where distinctions between nature, technology, and human intervention have largely ceased to exist.” 
    - Trevor Paglen, experimental cartographer-artist

“This book is designed to unmake a made-up mind.”
    - Critical Art Ensemble, art-activists

“Truth is weirder than fiction—and nowhere is that truer than in this book. “
    - The Yes Men, activist-pranksters

“A captivating collection of vignettes, This Is NOT An Artifact explores a surreal world of life driven by human design.“
    - Chris Voigt, MIT Biological Engineering

Edited by Etienne Turpin. 
Design by Wolfgang Hückel & K. Verlag

18 x 24 cm
440 pages
Color images
Hardcover, thread-stitching
ISBN 978-3-947858-36-1

Published in 2024 by K. Verlag

Improvements & Acquisitions

2023 proved to be a big year for long term improvements to the museum. This summer with the help of Neve Monroe-Anderson and Red Addis we were able to put a new coat of paint to the front hall and incorporate a number of antique glass display cases courteousy Michael Olynik.

2023 was also an exceptional year for new acquisitions. First up, we purchased a unique collection of over 50 78RPM records from the Canary Records label operated by independent musicology Ian Nagoski. The records chronicle several important and forgotten moments in the history of media, as well as human-bird relations. Spanning the early era of commercial recorded sound (1910’s to 1940’s) these records include: historically significant recordings of captive and trained song birds; records made for the purpose of training songbirds to perform a more human-centric repertoire; and human whistlers who, inspired by song birds, whistle for the purpose of accurate imitation as well as for virtuosic expressive performance. These recordings will play a role in several new exhibits, as well as a future book to be published in collaboration with Mr. Nagoski.

Next, in a very unexpected turn of events, we acquired 106 objects from the collection of the now defunct Philadelphia Commercial Museum (1895 - 1994). The museum was the first museum in the world to present a global collection of nature and culture for the purpose of promoting international commerce. The collection originated with exhibits that were produced for the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition of 1876 and the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893. The commercial exhibits were placed on permanent display and functioned as a kind of catalog of products and raw materials that could be bought and sold in the newly globalized economy. The existence of the museum helps fill in a historical gap in our understanding of when postnatural history was decoupled from natural history. 

Lastly, a very special donation to the museum was made this year by Mr. Joe Davis of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Mr. Davis is a world renowned artist and experimenter who works in fields including biology, physics, chemistry, robotics, engineering, radio, aeronautics, and so on. Mr. Davis gifted the museum with an exceptional specimen of wooly mammoth hair that had been collected in Siberia as a part of the Wooly Mammoth De-Extinction Project, an ongoing effort to use genetic engineering to bring the extinct wooly mammoth back, or at least something that looks like it. The mammoth hair is currently featured in the audio-guided exhibit area where many of our most prized specimens are housed.

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