Research
model of a human stomach
Papier-mâché model of a human stomach, possibly Shimadzu Manufacturing, Japan, possibly 1914—19. Powerhouse Collection.

Dr Nina Sellars

MAAS Research Fellowship

March 2021

Project Title: Ways of Seeing: A Transdisciplinary Approach to Museum Displays of Anatomy

Dr Nina Sellars’ practice-led research will focus on the historical anatomical models held within the Powerhouse collection, as she aims to undertake a close reading of the visual vocabularies that are elicited through these materials. In doing so she will consider not only their modes of production, but also the role of human perception. The design is to work towards identifying a series of underlying principles and ways of seeing that best enact anatomical knowledge visually. These principles could then be used to inform not only contemporary applications of digital metadata in museum displays of anatomy, but also in other applications beyond anatomy. Further, her intention is to generate critical questions about the ways in which we construct ideas through our material processes of display, especially within the life sciences.

Sellars’ research incorporates a creative approach to researching the Powerhouse collection: combining her knowledge in making anatomical models and illustrations, contemporary new media practice, interest in media theory and cultural studies, as well as her previous work as a body dissector.

Sellars is curator of exhibitions and programs at the Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, at the University of Melbourne. Previously, she was artist in residence at SymbioticA, the Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts, 2016–18, University of Western Australia, and research fellow at the Alternate Anatomies Lab (robotics and art research group), Curtin University, Perth, 2013–15. The practice-led outcomes from her research have featured in major exhibitions at the Wellcome Collection, London; Science Gallery, Dublin; GV Art London; and the Ian Potter Museum, University of Melbourne. Her recent authored publications include: ‘Fat Matters: Fluid Interventions in Anatomy’, in Fluid Matter(s): Flow and Transformation in the History of the Body(2020), an open access publication that comprises a series of essays presented in an experimental digital storytelling format; and ‘Robert Hooke’s Micrographia: a historical guide to navigating contemporary images,’ in Routledge Handbook of Art, Science, and Technology Studies,  (2021).