In the 19th century, museums wanting to display marine life faced a problem: curators who could stomach their galleries smelling like a fish market also had to watch in horror as their pickled specimens slowly dissolved into Jell-O. To get around the issue, Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, a father-and-son glassblowing duo from Germany, decided to create incredibly life-like glass models of the ocean’s invertebrates for onlookers to study in perpetuity (provided no one dropped them).
JSTOR Daily spoke to Eveline V. Ferretti and Dr Drew Harvell, curators of the Cornell Collection of Blaschka Invertebrate Models, about these impressive works of art and science. Harvell himself acknowledges that glass may not have been the sturdiest solution, but makes a good point about what it manages to convey. “It ... helps us communicate that the biodiversity of the oceans is as fragile as glass,” he explains.
For more photos, check out the entire collection in Artstor’s Public Collection but, for the love of God, don’t touch anything.