Science and the Artist's Book

An exhibition by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries and the Washington Project for the Arts


Herald of Science

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Georgius Agricola
De Re Metallica [On metallurgy]
Basel, Switzerland, 1621; first published 1556

    Agricola's remarkable book covers the entire field of mining and metallurgy, showing in more than 250 woodcuts how miners worked above ground and below. Called the father of mineralogy, Georgius Agricola acquired a broad familiarity with the tools and techniques of 16th-century miners through his years as a physician in mining communities of Bohemia, Germany, and Switzerland.

Artist's Book

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Sue Ann Robinson
Uru Pacha: World Beneath the Other
Long Beach, California, 1995
[mixed media, paper, semi-precious stones]

    "We live every day taking the Earth's stability for granted. But the Earth is fluid. It simply moves at a different rate under us than we do on it," writes Sue Ann Robinson. The artist's experience of the 1994 California earthquake (6.8 magnitude) has reinforced her awareness of the subterranean world. Agricola's woodcuts of underground mining operations inspired Robinson to devise a book suggesting a tunnel running through the layers of the Earth. Her title, Uru Pacha, means "world beneath the other" in the Inca language.

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