Santiago Ramón y Cajal made transformative discoveries of the anatomy of the brain and nervous system, work that led to his receiving a Nobel Prize in 1906. This founder of modern neuroscience was also an exceptional artist. His drawings of the brain were not only beautiful, but also astounding in their capacity to illustrate and understand the details of brain structure and function.
The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal will include approximately 80 of Cajal’s drawings, many rarely before seen in the U.S.
These historical works will be complemented by a contemporary exhibition of neuroscience visualizations that are leading to new insights, aided by technologies, many pioneered here at MIT, that allow increasingly more detailed and precise understandings.
Santiago Ramón y Cajal drew the brain in a way that provided a clarity exceeding that achieved by photographs. Combining scientific and artistic skills to produce drawings with extraordinary scientific and aesthetic qualities, his theory that the brain is composed of individual cells rather than a tangled single web is the basis of neuroscience today. This traveling exhibition of Cajal’s original drawings was organized by the Weisman Art Museum in collaboration with Drs. Eric Newman, Alfonso Araque, and Janet Dubinsky, neuroscientists at the University of Minnesota and leaders in the field of neuroscience. Dr. Araque was formerly at the Instituto Cajal in Madrid, where Cajal worked and where his drawings are housed.
The exhibit is organized in collaboration with Ricardo Martinez Murillo, neuroscientist and curator of the Cajal Legacy at the Cajal Institute (CSIC) in Spain. Eighty of Cajal’s drawings, many appearing for the first time in the United States, will be accompanied by a selection of contemporary visualizations of the brain, photographs, historic books, and scientific tools. After the debut at WAM, the exhibition will travel to university galleries and museums throughout the United States and Canada. (WAM press-release)