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Maria Sibylla Merian

A contribution to the 25th anniversary of the National Museum of Women in the Arts

The Dumbarton Oaks Research Library Rare Book Collection is a participant in a project, organized by the National Museum of Women in the Arts, to celebrate works by great women artists in Washington, D.C., museums. In 2012, the National Museum of Women in the Arts celebrates its 25th anniversary with special events, exhibitions, programs, and online projects. As part of this year-long celebration, NMWA developed Great Washington Museums Celebrate Great Women Artists, a collaborative city-wide exhibit of works by women artists at area museums.

The artist that the Research Library Rare Book Collection selected for this project is the naturalist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717), and specifically her 1719 publication Metamorphosis insectorum Surinamensium (first published in 1705). She was truly an extraordinary artist and naturalist, and we think she provides good company for the other female artists featured in this collaborative project.

In addition to images from the 1719 Metamorphosis, we present here images from other books by Merian, books that influenced Merian, and books that treated the interactions between plants and insects.  Please click through the exhibit items below to explore some of these forerunners and contemporaries of Merian.



Exhibit Items