Animal Vegetable Mineral

Organising Nature, A Picture Album


A visual miscellany revealing the dazzlingly ways early naturalists classified, ordered, controlled – and invented – nature as we know it, spanning taxonomies, colour charts and distribution maps.


ISBN: 9780957028593 Category:

Wellcome Collection


Published to accompany a major year-long exhibition, Making Nature at the Wellcome Collection, Animal Vegetable Mineral celebrates the beauty and strangeness of the very early ‘infographics’, charts, and ordering systems devised in an age that transformed how we see and understand nature.

These are the tools created by pioneering European naturists, artists, scientists, housewives and explorers in the 18th and 19th centuries, in an attempt to better understand (and control) a teeming and shifting natural world: the original big data challenge. In a collision of science, art and imagination, these images and objects range from intricate specimen illustrations, taxonomy charts, and animal distribution maps, to lavish colour dictionaries, and more.

Together, they attest to the deeply human desire to order and identify the world around us – and a restless quest to find our own place in it.

Additional information

Weight 256 g
Dimensions 13.1 x 18.6 cm
Publisher name Wellcome Collection
Publication date 1 March 2017
Number of pages 112
Format Hardback
Dimensions 13.1 x 18.6 cm
Weight 256 g
Wellcome Collection is London's free destination for the incurably curious, exploring the connections between science, life and art in the past, present and future through innovative contemporary and historic exhibitions. Tim Dee is a writer and BBC radio producer. He is the author of The Running Sky (2009) and Four Fields (2013) and co-editor of The Poetry of Birds (2009). Future projects include an account of following the spring through Europe and a book about men watching gulls on rubbish dumps.