As readers at Take As Directed and Terra Sigillata are aware, I’m working at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh as we launch our new wing, the Nature Research Center (NRC). Dedicated to bringing ordinary citizens in touch and involved with science and scientists, the NRC will open to the public during a 24-hour Grand Opening celebration beginning this Friday, April 20, at 5 pm EDT.
Making science accessible to the public is a philosophy evident, for example, in the hire of Brian Malow to serve as the emcee of the Museum’s SECU Daily Planet, the iconic global multimedia theatre at the heart of the NRC.
In keeping with this theme, I’m delighted to announce that science storyteller Perrin Ireland has agreed to join us as artist-in-residence for the duration of our grand opening activities.
“I am currently science storyteller at Alphachimp Studio, Inc, a graphic facilitation studio in Nashville, TN that helps people tell their stories visually,” says Perrin. “I work with scientists and health professionals to transform their content into playful, engaging animations.”
Perrin is well-known to the online and meatspace science communications world as an outstanding visual artist. But she’s an equally vivid writer. When she launched her old blog, Perrin shared this worldview:
My pen and ink explications of science are the love children of graphic novels and dissection manuals. They explore the technicalities and history of the research experience. I discuss the role research plays in the human relationship to other creatures via illustration with the intent to make scientific concepts accessible to a general audience that largely believes itself science illiterate.
I yearn for the days of yore when everybody was an amateur naturalist, and the world was any illustrator’s oyster. People discovered how things worked by drawing what they found. I drew my way through my biology degree at Brown University.
My goal is to invite the lay audience to reclaim science as an intimate practice of embracing the world. I am for a people’s science. (In my graphic stories I’m interested in illustrating that there are many ways to do things besides the ways we do them, and they’re all perfectly acceptable) . . . My calling is to illuminate, to represent the voiceless, minute, creative explosions of life that guide me to continue expanding my perspective.
Perrin will be throughout the Nature Research Center during the 24-hour opening capturing the work of scientists from around the world who are joining us to speak with the public. These programs will not only take place in our Daily Planet theatre but also at our more intimate Windows on Research areas outside of our laboratories.
And funny that I mentioned Brian Malow above – Perrin has agreed to scribe Brian’s late-night science cafe show in the NRC’s new “science sports bar” at midnight to 2 am during the opening. Details are still being negotiated but all signs point to Perrin both being documentarian and interview subject.
I’m really excited to see what happens when two remarkably creative people get together with internationally-recognized scientists at a public event currently anticipated to draw 50,000 visitors during the 24-hour event. So if you’re in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina – or can drive or fly here by Friday, April 20 at 5 pm EDT – we hope you’ll join us.
For a full schedule of our 24-hour Grand Opening events, see this main Plan Your Visit page to learn about events and performances, outdoor displays and activities, indoor activities, the full Daily Planet schedule, and a full PDF event map.