Art, Art History and Design, School of


First Advisor

Dana Fritz

Second Advisor

Walker Pickering

Third Advisor

Aaron Holz

Date of this Version

Spring 4-11-2022

Document Type



Cullen, Austin, A Natural History (Built to be Seen), UNL Digital Commons, APRIL 2022


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Art, Under the Supervision of Professor Dana Fritz. Lincoln, Nebraska: April 2022

Copyright © 2022 Austin Cullen


A Natural History (Built to be Seen) is a series of photographic observations of the spectacular and absurd ways the western natural world is presented in museums. The subjects of the photographs include displays from both the front-facing, visitor side of the museum, and the back, research-focused side of the museum. As someone who grew up visiting natural history museums, I've always been fascinated by the extravagant ways they framed the American landscape. Dramatic dioramas, interactive virtual experiences, and miniaturized landscapes all act as windows into the natural world. While this framing provides a guide for reading and understanding nature, the same frame can be analyzed to reveal the complex and ever-changing relationship between people and land.

Advisor: Dana Fritz

Included in

Photography Commons