The Nature of Curious Objects: Sue Johnson's Paper Museum

One of Sue Johnson's new pictures that will be exhibited at the Pitt Rivers Museum from January 2012

Following the success of her previous exhibition on the Museum's Lower Gallery in early 2011, American artist Sue Johnson returns to the Pitt Rivers Museum to show fifteen new works. The exhibition will open on Tuesday 24 January and will run until 10 June 2012 in the Museum’s Long Gallery.

‘Just occasionally, an artist comes to work with the collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum with such a sympathetic but different take that it changes everyone’s way of seeing. Such an artist is Sue Johnson.’ Jeremy Coote, Curator and Joint Head of Collections.

Sue’s striking paintings have been inspired by images of familiar types of ethnographic and archaeological objects in the illustrated catalogue of General Pitt-Rivers’s ‘second’ collection. Working in gouache, watercolour, and pencil on paper, and drawing on her extensive knowledge of natural history illustration, museums, and archives, Sue redisplays and reorders familiar objects in new contexts and new juxtapositions.

The illustrated catalogue has been one of the major focuses of the ‘Rethinking Pitt-Rivers project, of which Sue is an honorary research associate. Sue  has worked collaboratively with museums and rare book libraries for many years, creating exhibitions based on works from collections in the USA. She is also Professor of Art in the Department of Art & Art History at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She was Visiting Scholar in Residence at the Centre for Medieval & Renaissance Studies, Oxford in 2010-11. More information can be found at:

A catalogue (£5.00) and postcards to accompany the exhibition will be available from the Museum shop and quality reproductions of a selection of the paintings can be ordered from

Jeremy Coote and Kate Webber January 2012.

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