Monday, December 9, 2013


“One man’s poison may be another man’s elixir of health,” so say some wizards. The Power of Poison, a new exhibition at the Museum of Natural History, through August 10, 2014, explores poison’s paradoxical
roles in nature, human health and history, literature, and myth, and the role of science in demystifying and harnessing its power. The story of poison is surprising at every turn and a fascinating display it is for everyone’s curiosity. Whether as a defense against predators, a source of magical strength, or a lethal weapon used as lifesaving medical treatment the Museum invites visitors to explore some of history’s most puzzling poisoning cases. The traditional Origami Holiday Tree theme this year is Wicked, Wild, and Wonderful, featuring ornaments inspired by The Power of Poison exhibition.
Image: Mad Hatter's tea party from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland alluding to the real-life symptoms of mercury poisoning suffered by workers exposed to the substance in the hat-making industry in the 18th and 19th centuries.

MYTHS and MYSTERY People throughout history have created myths; they’ve told stories about the mysterious powers of poison, but in the natural world, poisons are simply part of the daily struggle to survive. The astonishing variety of evolutionary adaptations among toxic plants and animals is at the heart of this intriguing exhibition, which also examines humans’ attempts to understand poison’s potency, how the science of detecting poison has developed, and how researchers today use venom's and other natural toxins to develop new medical treatments.

FOLKLORE Scenes from familiar stories, include the Mad Hatter’s odd behavior, as the exhibition explains, was likely inspired by real-life symptoms of mercury poisoning suffered by workers exposed to the substance in the hat-making industry in the 18th and 19th centuries. Not surprising, poisonous plants and other toxins can be found in the core of countless fairy tales and legends from around the world, and some of the most unlikely often contain kernels of truth. It’s a particularly child-friendly exhibition. Remember the famous scene in William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which features a trio of witches, you’ll find them in the display as well.

INTERACTIVE ACTIVITY This is one of the most engaging sites; it’s the interactive section where eyewitness accounts and clues can be used to solve poisoning mysteries. The Detecting Poisons Theater requests your presence where live presenters engage the audience with stories of poisoning and forensic detection. Visitors will encounter some of history’s most puzzling poisoning cases, use clues to solve poisoning mysteries, and take part in the theater presentation to help unravel a real-world case of poisoning. The Villains and Victims section considers some of history’s most notorious poisoners and poisoning that still puzzle us today.

This is a fascinating exhibition; plan to spend the day. For additional information call 212-769-5100 or visit the Museum’s website at The museum is located between 79th and 81st Street, Central Park west. For the educator’s Guide:

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Art Spiegelman has embraced the credo that comics are a medium for personal expression, creating candid accounts of his own experiences, dreams, neuroses, and frustrations. He once noted, “Spiegel means mirror in German, so my name co-mixes languages to form a sentence: Art mirrors man.”

In an art career that now spans five decades, Art Spiegelman, one of the most influential living comics artists, is celebrated at The Jewish Museum, through March 23, 2014 in the exhibition; Co-Mix: A Retrospective of Comics, Graphics, and Scraps; a comprehensive overview of his career showing the full range of years of experimentation. Starting from the artist’s earliest self-published comics and lavish graphics on display are an eye-popping view of the legendary artist’s works. Image; Art Spiegelman, cover art for Print magazine, May/June 1981, ink and collage paper. Copyright (c) 1981, Used by permission of the artist and The Wylie Agency LLC.

Spiegelman is as original as anyone can get and his oeuvre has inspired countless cartoonists, while his shorter works have substantially expanded the expressive range of comics. He has continually reinvented comics, and he has also made a distinct mark in book and magazine design, bubble gum cards, lithography, modern dance, and most recently stained glass. His body of work is a breathtaking and powerful display and the museum’s impressive presentation is an awe-inspiring tribute to the artist.

MAUS MAGAZINE Spiegelman’s art form spans his early years in underground comix to the thirteen year genesis of Maus, his Pulitzer Prize-winning Holocaust memoir, the graphic novel about his parents’ survival of the Holocaust, which established the graphic novel as a legitimate art form. More recent works include provocative covers for the New Yorker, including his first cover, which pictured a Hasidic Jewish man and an African-American woman locked in a passionate Valentine’s Day embrace. The exhibition illustrates Spiegelman’s artistic collaborations in new and unexpected media; his painstaking creative process, and over three hundred preparatory sketches, preliminary and final drawings, as well as prints and other ephemeral and documentary material. Image: Valentine's Day, Art Spiegelman, Cover Art for Print magazine. Used by permission of the artist and The Wylie Agency, LLC.

Born in Stockholm in 1948, Art Spiegelman was the first comic’s artist to win the Pulitzer Prize, he co-edited Raw, and his comics have appeared not only in the New Yorker, but The New York Times, Playboy, and Harper’s. Spiegelman has been named one of the 100 most influential People by Time, elected to the Art Director Club’s Hall of Fame, made a Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2005; truly a man of his time and a New Yorker.

The Jewish Museum is located at 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd Street, New York City. For information call 212.423.3200 or visit