Invisible Portraits: A Closer Look at the Exhibition on Microbes

Invisible Portraits, the Beaty Biodiversity Museum’s current exhibition, is full of tiny organisms that usually go unseen. The black-and-white scanning electron micrographs are presented in ornate gilded frames, referencing the presentation style of academic portraiture, but with very unusual subjects imaged in a very high-tech method.

Derek Tan, the museum’s Digital Media Specialist, and the exhibition’s designer, created a Rococo-inspired arabesque used in the show’s design elements. Traditionally incorporating botanical forms, an arabesque is a curving decorative motif often applied to architectural details such as ornamental moulding, or calligraphic embellishment in art and design. The arabesque created for this exhibition features microbes and other unicellular organisms hidden within it.