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Natural History & Fine Arts Museum

Special Exhibits

Chiwaukee Prairie

November 20, 2021 – March 6, 2022

A photo journal of preservation by Dr. Dana Garrigan







Selections From the Collections – Inuit Art

Through March 6, 2022

Prints and sculptures from the Arctic Circle








Past Exhibitions

Transparent Watercolor Society of America 45th Annual National Juried Exhibition

May 1 – July 31, 2021

Eighty paintings from transparent watercolor artists from across the country were on display. Works included a wide variety of subjects from landscapes and portraits to abstracts.

Click here to view the paintings on the TWSA Website.



Click here to learn more

According to the Transparent Watercolor Society of America (TWSA):

All watercolor pigments applied in a transparent manner allow light to penetrate the layers of glazes and reflect back through the pigments from the paper below. The whites are brilliant paper left unpainted. This light, reflecting off the white of the paper, makes the medium work.

White paint is by its very nature opaque, not transparent; it covers up what is underneath. It also permanently changes the surface of the area it has covered and its use can be both noticeable and unattractive. No white paint is accepted. Artists are required to preserve the white of the paper’s surface wherever a white statement is intended.

While white paint interferes with the natural transparency of the medium, the use of transparent watercolor paint includes pigments classified as ‘opaque’ , such as the cadmiums and others which are acceptable as long as they are applied largely in a transparent manner. The focus on the way paint is applied to the paper, ‘in a transparent manner’, is to allow the white paper to create luminosity rather than, ‘in an opaque manner’, which obscures the reflected light. This shifts the emphasis from a discussion of pigment to the way in which pigment is applied. In practical terms, if the texture of the paper can be seen through a dark area of the painting, or there is an undulation of value or color(s) within it, then it is not ‘opaque’. However, if the area shines, then the light is reflecting off of the pigment and not from the paper underneath.



Masters of Their Era – Prints from the Ronald L. and Mary K. Ruble Collection

March 26 – April 17, 2021

The show, curated by Ronald L. and Mary K. Ruble, features prominent artists significant to the advancement of modern printmaking. Some of these artists include: Sigmund Abeles, Leonard Baskin, Warrington Colescott, Leonard Baskin, Robert Indiana, Ed Paschke, Judy Pfaff, June Wayne



Click here for more about Ron Ruble’s life and art.


Savages and Princesses: The Persistence of Native American Stereotypes

January 28 – March 16, 2021

Stereotypes of Native American peoples are ubiquitous and familiar. Twelve Native American visual artists reclaim their right to represent their identities as Native Americans. Whether using humor, subtlety, or irony, the telling is always fiercely honest and dead-on. Images and styles are created from traditional, contemporary,and mass culture forms.

Click here to learn more

The exhibition intends to counteract the disappearance of Native portrayals. It embraces Native Americans’ power to replace stereotypical images that permeate the current pop culture landscape. Recognizing that stereotypes often occur without conscious awareness, the exhibition includes didactic information that explores common stereotypes about native peoples that are falsehoods, followed by the truths behind them. The exhibition’s artists use the unexpected – humor, emotion, or shock – to encourage viewers to question and challenge stereotypes, even unspoken, unacknowledged ones.

Originally presented at Tulsa’s 108|Contemporary in 2016, this exhibition is organized by ExhibitsUSA, a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance.


Insects in Focus

November 10, 2020 – March 16, 2021

By using cutting-edge technology and custom methods, artist Bob Sober created human-scale images of insects of breathtaking beauty that allows viewers to see the hidden world of insects like they’ve never seen it before. The exhibit aims to inspire, in an artistic way, our natural curiosity to understand the form, function and diversity of nature.

Click here to learn more

By using cutting-edge technology and custom methods, artist Bob Sober created Small Wonders: Insects in Focus, an exhibition of breathtaking beauty that allows viewers to see this hidden world like they’ve never seen it before. Small Wonders aims to inspire, in an artistic way, our natural curiosity to understand the form, function, and diversity of nature.

Insects have been on earth 350 million years, while sharing the planet with humans for only the past 2 million years. Hundreds of thousands of insect species have been documented (scientists believe 30 million may exist), far outnumbering the total of all other animal species. Insects are so prolific that thousands share our own backyards.

Creating human-scale images of insects, with resolution so high that every hair, dimple, and tiny structure is clearly revealed, was impossible prior to the technological advancements of the past ten years. High-resolution digital cameras, fast personal computers, economical digital storage, and powerful software applications capable of assisting with the assembly of hundreds or thousands of individual photographs create the opportunity to capture accurate images of insects as they truly exist.

These new ways of seeing confront viewers with the idea that insects display the elements we attribute to good design or beautiful artwork. Colors like neon green, sapphire blue, crimson red, deep violet, and brilliant yellow are all part of the insect world. Wild, multi-colored patterns sometimes come from hair, sometimes from iridescent scales, and other times from colors integral to the insect’s exoskeleton. Smooth metallic finishes and heavily stippled texture may exist on the same insect. Strange body shapes, delicate wing structures, and beautifully engineered body components captivate. These tiny creatures are indeed artwork, in every sense of the word.

Bob Sober, a visual artist as well as technological pioneer whose photographic techniques are the subject of educational tutorials, offers a series of thirty images that bring the natural world to a scale rarely experienced until now. Small Wonders finds viewers at the intersection of art and science, and brings together two fields of thought in a provocative and inspiring way. The exhibition is organized by ExhibitsUSA, a program of Mid-America Arts Alliance.