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The ‘Small Worlds’ project at the Museum of the History of Science has been active since June 2006 with the support of a grant from the Renaissance in the Regions Designation Challenge Fund administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council. Research staff on the project are completing a catalogue, with photographs, of the Museum’s large collection of microscopes and microscopical specimens, which is accessible via an internet database.

A further outcome was a special exhibition, Small Worlds: the art of the invisible, which aims to present the specimens in an original and engaging way – a particular display challenge since the material itself is too small to be seen directly. The exhibition is accompanied by a programme of public events and is also available in an online version.

The Museum staff collaborated with two artists in planning and mounting the exhibition. Heather Barnett contributed films, installations, wallpaper and textiles, while these visual elements are supported by poems written and spoken by Will Holloway. Will’s poems are heard on audio-guides in the exhibition gallery and some of their texts are also published in the online exhibition.

Heather Barnett is a visual artist working at the intersections of art, science and technology. Interests range across medicine, psychology, perception and visualisation, with projects including microbial portraiture, cellular wallpapers, performing cuttlefish and organic edible installations. See

Will Holloway studied at the Conservatoire Ancien de la Poésie under Léopold Argot where he took the Prix des Prix in circumlocution. His poetry is measured at 78.2 Gigasublimities. His collections President McVeigh (2004) and Suicide Bombing Is Just So Passive-Aggressive (2005) were both long-listed for the Helios. He has been commissioned by the BBC to denounce the system and he has performed at The Coltan, The Witz and many other venues too cool for you to have heard of. His dad is an astronaut. See


Curatorial: Jim Bennett, Stephen Johnston, Vince Mason, Ben Mersey

Collections management: Lucy Blaxland

Conservation: Cheryl Wolfe

Graphic design: Keiko Ikeuchi

Technical design: Owen Shaw

Web design: Elizabeth Bruton

Micro photography: Ben Mersey

Publicity: Laura Ashby

Education: Christopher Parkin

Exhibition Installation: Owen Shaw, Nick Wicker, Hannah Procter, Shih Wen-Ching, Vince Mason, Stephen Johnston, Jim Bennett