New Crick Institute Opens With Great New Exhibition

How Do We Look?, Francis Crick Institute ★★★☆☆

Sarah Stewart
By Sarah Stewart Last edited 15 months ago

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New Crick Institute Opens With Great New Exhibition How Do We Look?, Francis Crick Institute 3
'How Do We Look' Gallery View (Photo: S.Stewart)
How Do We Look? gallery view Photo: S.Stewart.

The Francis Crick Institute in King's Cross may seem an unlikely venue for an art exhibition, but that is exactly what you will find inside this incredible new biomedical research facility.

Inside the spacious foyer, overarched by an imposing, sail-like roof — and beneath multi-levelled glass and steel walkways — the gallery space is hosting its first exhibition, How Do We Look?.

It's a collection of images and videos exploring both the process of scientific image-making, and seeking to unravel some of the research questions that the scientists at the Crick are currently investigating.

Mouse embryo heart (Image: Dr. Muhan/Crick Institute)
Mouse embryo heart Image: Dr Muhan/Crick Institute.

The small, but powerful and informative exhibition explores these issues in depth. In spite of the apparent 'simplicity' of some of the images, the amount of information they convey is impressive, and both written and audio commentary from Crick researchers provides additional insight. It gives a more intimate, personal glimpse into the passion and enthusiasm of the individuals, too.

Imaging techniques — ranging from microscopy and fluorescent staining processes, to informational and data driven diagrams such as genomic sequences — are visualised and displayed, showing intricate biological processes such as cancer cells being attacked by immune cells, a tree diagram exploring the relatedness of cancer cell lineages, and glowing round fat bodies appearing in the cells of developing fruit fly larvae.

The Crick Institute, looking up (Photo: S.Stewart)
The Crick Institute, looking up Photo: S.Stewart.

There is even a film sequence showing the effect of genetic changes on development of the heart of a mouse embryo. All of these images are being used to discover and understand new things about our bodies and our biology.

While these images have originally been produced to answer specific research queries or communicate scientific knowledge, they are also beautiful in their own right. The genomic sequence of a yeast cell resembles a monochromatic canvas by abstract painter Piet Mondrian.

In all, this exhibition is an insightful glimpse into how images are both used and produced by research — and a pretty good looking one at that.

How Do We Look? is at The Francis Crick Institute, 1 Midland Road, King's Cross, NW1 1AT until 4 February. Free entry, Open Wednesday-Saturday

Last Updated 11 November 2016