Ms Bergit Arends

Supervised by

Research interests



Curating Art in the Age of the Anthropocene

Recent years have seen a surge in artists’ projects engaging with environmental questions, experimenting with new forms for exhibition, display, and public engagement. As a consequence artists have sought new constituencies and institutional frameworks in which creative experimentation can take place. Frequently these projects are instigated by and enabled through a contemporary art curator.

My research will survey environmental art projects from the 1960s but with a focus on the past two decades. In particular the research considers curatorial and artistic practices in relation to contemporary notions of the ‘Anthropocene’, a term intended to highlight the significance of human agency within the Earth’s natural system (Crutzen & Stoermer, 2000). To date little critical attention has been paid to exploring how the ‘Anthropocene’ has been taken up and interpreted through curatorial and creative practice in relation to the environment.


My studies are supported by a Reid Scholarship for the Research Theme of Creativity awarded by Royal Holloway, University of London.


Areas of interest: curating, contemporary art, environment, expeditions, interfaces arts and sciences, exhibitions and display, publications



Personal profile


As a curator I create environments, both within and outside institutions, in which the sciences and the arts can interact to build cultural knowledge.

Most recently I curated two new visual art commissions (performance artist Klara Hobza, video artist Elizabeth Price) for the Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin, as part of the Kunst/Natur programme, funded by the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (Germany). In addition, since January 2017 I have been Manager of Research & Public History at the Science Museum Group, based at the Science Museum, London. I manage the Group’s collaborative doctoral programme and work with the AHRC-funded Independent Research Organisations.

I was Curator of Contemporary Artat the Natural History Museum in London from 2005 to June 2013 where I curated a number of major exhibitions, commissioned works, and created an international artists-in-residence programme. Highlights of my tenure include the exhibition Lucy + Jorge Orta: Amazonia, shown as part of International Year of Biodiversity in 2010. Other exhibitions as part of the programme include Mark Dion: Systema Metropolis (2007) and, in 2006, The Ship: The Art of Climate Change in partnership with Cape Farewell. In 2009 I commissioned artist Tania Kovats to create a new permanent art installation for the Museum’s iconic Central Hall to mark the bicentenary of Charles Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. In the same year I also curated the exhibition After Darwin: Contemporary Expressions and edited the accompanying publication Expressions: From Darwin to Contemporary Arts, including writing by Antonio Damasio and Mark Haddon. I also enabled artists’ residencies at the Museum, notably Tessa Farmer, Chinese artist Hu Yun, Australian artist Daniel Boyd, and Indian artist Sunoj D.

From 1999 to 2004 I managed the science and art programme at the Wellcome Trust. As part of the programme, I co-edited the publication Experiment: conversations in art and science (2003) and Talking back to Science: art, science, and the personal (2004).

Most recently I co-curated with Greg Hilty Galápagos(2012 to 2013), a touring group show of 13 artists’ work based on research they undertook on the Ecuadorian archipelago.

I studied Curating of Contemporary Art at the Royal College of Art in London (1995 to 1997).



Kunst/Natur Museum für Naturkunde Berlin (2016 to 2017)

Galapagos (Co-curator 2012 – 2013 and co-editor of exhibition publication)

Natural History Museum International Artist in Residence Programme as part of Images of Nature Gallery; works by Hu Yun, Daniel Boyd, Sunoj D

Sunoj D (2012 - 2013)

Daniel Boyd (2012 - 13)

Hu Yun (2011 - 2012)

Preserved! part of Cultures of Preservation network (ongoing)

Personal profile

Congress for Curious People

Homo sapiens or Homo ludens? Adventures in Curating or

On Working with Artists at the Natural History Museum London

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