Worlds Within is a unique collaboration between the Hunt Institute (22 September-15 December 2017) and the Miller Gallery (23 September-12 November 2017). The two venues, at either end of the Carnegie Mellon University campus, are exhibiting botanical micrographs by British artist Rob Kesseler (1951–) alongside botanical wall charts from Carl Ignaz Leopold Kny’s (1841–1916) series Botanische Wandtafeln (Berlin, Paul Parey, 1874–1911). Complementing the forms represented in these charts and micrographs is a selection of models of marine organisms made of glass by Leopold Blaschka (1822–1895) and Rudolf Blaschka (1857–1939) and made of glacite by Edwin H. Reiber (1881–1967), loaned by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Worlds Within exposes the generally unseen world of plants and their internal architecture, textures, patterns and functions. It reveals repeating patterns in nature: generic structures and forms, which recur on a macro and micro scale. The graphic impact of historical instructive botanical wall charts and models alongside monumentalized, hand-colored botanical micrographs by Rob Kesseler creates a remarkable visual bridge between the conventional purpose of scientific illustration as used in educational materials and the aesthetic interpretation of scientific imagery in contemporary art.

The work at the Hunt Institute offers a more comprehensive comparison between the micrographs and the historical charts and models while the Miller Gallery exhibition features a fuller range of Kesseler’s recent artwork. Both sections of this joint exhibition celebrate the extraordinary aesthetic interrelationships between historically different methods of visually interpreting the wonders of botanical phenomena, which are not readily visible to the naked eye. Viewers are encouraged to visit both venues to experience these stunning visual juxtapositions in which the many complexities of representing plants are concentrated into mesmeric visual images and objects.

This collaborative exhibition would not have been possible without the support of Carnegie Mellon University and its School of Art, College of Fine Arts, and Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry; the Carnegie Museum of Natural History; and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Opening receptions

The opening receptions on Friday, 22 September are open to the public (5:00–7:00 p.m. at the Institute; 6:00–8:00 p.m. at the Miller Gallery). Rob Kesseler will be attending both receptions (5:00–6:00 p.m. at the Institute; 6:15–8:00 p.m. at the Miller Gallery).

Panel discussion

A panel discussion, “The artist in the lab, the scientist in the studio,” will be held on Thursday, 28 September, 5:00–6:30 p.m. at the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry, College of Fine Arts, Room CFA-111, Carnegie Mellon University. Rob Kesseler, Worlds Within artist, and Steve Tonsor, Director of Science and Research, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and moderator Edith Doron, Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow, Senior Manager of Carnegie Nexus, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, will discuss the evolution of relationships between artists and scientists into research partnerships and will consider potential avenues for the intersections of these two disciplines in the future. This event is free and open to the public. For information, contact the STUDIO (


These exhibitions at Carnegie Mellon University will be on display at the Institute on the 5th floor of the Hunt Library building and at the Miller Gallery on the 1st Floor of the Purnell Center for the Arts and will be open to the public free of charge. Hunt Institute gallery hours: Monday–Friday, 9 am–noon and 1–5 pm; Sunday, 1–4 pm (except 23–26 November). Miller Gallery hours: Tuesday–Sunday, noon–6 pm (closed Mondays and major holidays). Because the Institute’s hours of operation are occasionally subject to change, please call or email before your visit to confirm. For further information, contact the Hunt Institute at 412-268-2434 or the Miller Gallery at 412-268-3618.


  • Viburnum opulus, Guelder rose [Viburnum opulus Linnaeus, Caprifoliaceae], hand-colored micrograph on canvas by Rob Kesseler (1951–), 2008, reproduced by permission of the artist. This detail of a leaf shows the stellate hairs (110× magnification).
  • [Sclereids (support cells) in Fig. 1. Humulus lupulus Linnaeus, Cannabaceae; Fig. 2. Deutzia scabra Thunberg, Hydrangeaceae; Fig. 3. Nuphar lutea (Linnaeus) Smith, Nymphaeaceae], color lithograph by W. A. Meyn (fl.1874–1911), 81.5 × 66 cm, after an original by Carl Ignaz Leopold Kny (1841–1916) and C. Müller (–1911) for Kny, Botanische Wandtafeln (Berlin, Paul Parey, 1874–1911, pl. 7), HI Art accession no. 6699.007.