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2013 Archive: Ilana Halperin: The Library

Open Friday 24 May to Sunday 29 September 2013 at National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh. Press view: Thursday 23 May 2013, 11.30am to 1pm. Admission free.

Contemporary artist Ilana Halperin creatively explores time through fossils, minerals and geological sculptures in The Library, opening on 24 May at the National Museum of Scotland.

Contemporary artist Ilana Halperin creatively explores time through fossils, minerals and geological sculptures in The Library, opening on 24 May at the National Museum of Scotland.

The Library will present rocks, minerals and geological artefacts in a new and remarkable light – introducing visitors to the alphabet of geology through agates that share the artist’s birthday, minerals that record the collision of Earth and outer space, artworks slowly formed in caves and geothermal springs and her most ambitious project to date, a 1.3 ton stone library featuring ‘books’ of the mineral mica.

The exhibition traces a thin and permeable line between geology and biology, culture and nature.

Glasgow-based Ilana Halperin is the first recipient of an Artist’s Fellowship at National Museums Scotland. Funded by Creative Scotland, the Fellowship is part of National Museums’contemporary arts strategy, covering a wide range of art forms and broadening access to the outstanding national collections in new and creative ways.

Originally from New York, Ilana trained as a stone carver before her growing fascination and interest in geology drew her to Scotland, geology’s birthplace. During her Fellowship, she has been both researching the rich and varied geology collections at National Museums Scotland and exploring geological phenomena in the wider world – her research taking her from the Blue Lagoon and active volcanoes in Iceland to the Fontaines Petrifiantes, family-owned petrifying caves in France.

Commenting on her work, Ilana says:

“My work explores the relationship between geological phenomena and daily life. Drawing parallels between very personal events, for example when I was born or when my father died, with the birth of a volcano, allows for a space to think about our place within the geological time continuum from a more intimate perspective.

More recently, an unexpected line of enquiry within my work has developed, the idea that we as humans are also geological agents –we form geology, body stones. We are like volcanoes, producing new landmass on a micro scale.”

Ilana’s work has been exhibited all over the world including the recent solo exhibitions Steine at Berliner Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité and Hand Held Lava at the Schering Stiftung, the exhibition Volcano at Compton Verney in 2010; a city-wide exhibition in Murica, Spain in 2008; the Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates in 2007 and the exhibition Experimental Geography which toured the United States from 2008 to 2011.

She is the recipient of numerous awards including a Creative Scotland Artist Award, a British Council Darwin Now Award and an Alchemy Fellowship at Manchester Museum. She has also been appointed as the Artist-Curator of the geology collection of The Music Hall, the new Museum and Art Gallery of Shrewsbury, the birthplace of Charles Darwin.

The Library is supported by Creative Scotland and is part of the Edinburgh Art Festival 2013.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of events and talks.

Notes to Editors

  • National Museums Scotland is one of the leading museum groups in the UK and Europe and it looks after collections of national and international importance. The organisation provides loans, partnerships, research and training in Scotland and internationally. Our individual museums are the National Museum of Scotland, the National Museum of Flight, the National Museum of Rural Life and the National War Museum. The National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh houses conservation and research facilities as well as collections not currently on display.

28 February 2013

For further information and images please contact Esme Haigh, Bruce Blacklaw or Barbara Fraser, Press Office, National Museums Scotland, tel 0131 247 4391 email

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