Amy Crawford – MGS funded Museum Engagement Officer

Art and science often go hand in hand. The ability to visualise scientific data is an artform, likewise art is often inspired by nature and the scientific world. Some of the most unique art and science objects in our collections are glass sculptures.

These glass sculptures below were created by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka and acquired by D’Arcy Thompson in 1889-90. A father and son business, they ran a highly successful glass modelling business in Germany throughout the late 19th century. Glass is an incredibly difficult and unpredictable medium to work with, yet they specialised in creating anatomically precise models of marine animals. These models were based on research they conducted in the North Sea, Baltic Sea, and the Mediterranean.

Prolific workers, they created almost 4,000 different models before their business closed in 1936.

Blaschka Glass model of a moon jellyfish (Aurelia Aurita) DUNUC 9318
Blaschka Glass model of a starfish (Astera rubens) development – larval stage DUNUC 9320


Other unique artistic sculptures we have in our collections are the work of Steffan Dam from Dam and Karlslund Glas.

Dam started in traditional glass blowing, before getting tired of this technique and began actively ‘cultivating’ accidental mistakes instead. These would often leave residue in the glass, imprints from various tools or soot marks and bubbles inside the glass. Even though the sculptures look like creatures suspended in liquid, it is one sculpture encased in glass in a mould. Once the glass has set it is then polished and hand shaped with the help of machinery.

Steffan Dam’s glass sculptures (2015) from his series Jars. DUNUC 3929 DUNUC 3929/1

The creatures he creates are imaginary fictional sea creatures – the glass work is so fine you can make out different strands in the jellyfish-like tentacles. They are convincing enough that you might imagine them swimming around in the dark parts of the ocean, but they are indeed all from Dam’s imagination.

Get in touch with us to see these glass sculptures up close and personal at the D’Arcy Thompson Museum #uodmuseums

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