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Science in Motion: The Photographic Studies of Eadweard Muybridge, Berenice Abbott, and Harold Edgerton

Dates: September 20, 2019–January 5, 2020

Photography itself was born out of a passionate engagement between art and science.

“…there needs to be a friendly interpreter between science and the layman. I believe that photography can be this spokesman, as no other form of expression can be; for photography, the art of our time, the mechanical scientific medium which matches the pace and character of our era, is attuned to the function. There is an essential unity between photography, science’s child, and science, the parent.”
—Berenice Abbott, Photography and Science, 1939

The medium’s pioneers were inventors, scientists, and mathematicians whose experiments dramatically affected the art form and forged a reciprocal relationship between art and science that continues to this day.

This exhibition offers a rich view of the scientific studies done by three groundbreaking photographers––Eadweard Muybridge, Harold Edgerton, and Berenice Abbott. They began their photographic careers in different manners: Muybridge as an experimenter in early photographic processes, Edgerton as a scientist, and Abbott as an artist. In the photos displayed here, Muybridge and Edgerton captured movement, while Abbott illustrated scientific principles with her images.

However, these neat distinctions are oversimplified. Each photographer went on to push the limits of the medium artistically, and by inventing devices to study and represent light and motion that allowed the public to see what was previously unseen. Their work elegantly reveals scientific phenomena and individual artistic practices, and underlines photography’s role as a new way of seeing the world.


This exhibition has been loaned through the Bank of America Art in our Communities program.

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