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Arts and Humanities

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Diorama ImageHistory and Approach

The Harvard Forest has a deep history of incorporating environmental literature, history, photography, and fine art with scientific research to characterize past landscapes, depict future scenarios, and educate a range of audiences. In addition to the exquisite dioramas of the Fisher Museum, our arts and humanities work is two-fold.

  • The first is an increased focus on interdisciplinarity in our course offerings.
    Presentations and workshops by artists, historians, botanical illustrators, and writers enrich students' perspectives on landscape and global change. 
  • The second is a burgeoning effort to bring artists to the Forest to conduct inquiry on long-term ecological research sites alongside scientists.
    This work has been supported by a 2009-2012 grant from the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Program of the National Science Foundation. Research sites across the country are actively engaged in this work. To learn more about the network, visit the LTER Reflections page. Artists interested in doing new work at the Forest may apply for a formal research fellowship via our Charles Bullard Fellowship program.

Project News

Tannery Remains Watercolor by Debby Kaspari

  • 2016-2017 Bullard Fellow David Buckley Borden is an interdisciplinary artist and designer, collaborating with the Forest's world-class ecologists on boundary-shattering projects involving creative cartography, speculative design, and landscape installation. His field-based installation, Hemlock Hospice, is on view at the Forest from October 2017 to November 2018.
  • The culmination of 2013-2014 Bullard Fellow Lynda Mapes' work at the Forest is a new book: Witness Tree.
  • Work by 39 artists from 11 LTER sites, including six artists from the Harvard Forest, is the focus of a new Ecological Reflections exhibit at National Science Foundation (NSF) headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. The exhibit, “Sense of Place in Changing Places” runs February 28 through June 15, 2013.
  • A multimedia exhibit featuring work by 2011-2012 artist-in-residence Roberto Mighty was on display in the Fisher Museum in fall 2012.
  • LTER Reflections artwork was on exhibit from March through June, 2012, at the National Science Foundation's headquarters in the DC area and subsequently traveled to several national and regional science events throughout the country.
  • A new online feature, Ghosts in the Forest featuring work by 2010-2011 artist-in-residence Debby Kaspari is now available.


Thoreau’s Country: Journey through a Transformed Landscape. David Foster. 1999. Harvard University Press. Drawing on the mid-19th century journals of Henry David Thoreau, David Foster paints a narrative portrait of the occupants, sights, sounds, and smells of the busy, agricultural New England landscape of those times. This is a bridging of environmental literature and science as both authors step between roles as dispassionate observer and creative, evocative writer.

Ecological Science at Work. Communicating LTER Science to a Broader Audience. Forthcoming photography book by John Hirsch. Text written in collaboration with David Foster. An exploration of Harvard Forest, the scientists who work here and the field and laboratory studies being conducted. Investigates how site-specific actions, experiments, or climate events can have broad-reaching effects on both regional and global climates and how this contributes to a larger understanding of our present and future global climate situation. Audience: knowledgeable general audience; conservation, research, and environmental community; photography community. Hirsch has photographed at the Forest for over a year in more than ten visits. The book will explore retrospective studies, experiments, measurements, and analyses and will end with a look to studies grappling with forecasting, future conditions and scenarios.

Future Scenarios

The Wildlands and Woodlands conservation vision for New England represents a vision for the future based in part on understanding of the ecological and cultural history of the area reaching back centuries and millennia.

Artists in Residence

2016-2017 Bullard Fellow David Buckley Borden is an interdisciplinary artist and designer, collaborating with the Forest's world-class ecologists on boundary-shattering projects involving creative cartography, speculative design, and landscape installation.

In 2013-2014, veteran Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes spent a year at the Forest working on a book that tells the story of global change from the perspective of one red oak tree at the Harvard Forest. Learn more on the Witness Tree page.

Debby Kaspari, a 2011 Bullard Fellow and the Forest's first long-term artist-in-residence, explored themes of land use history and ecological legacies. Her residency included workshops, presentations for students and the public, and exchanges with other artists, historians, and scientists.

Support for digital multimedia artist Roberto Mighty includes both an art installation on the relationship between historical Native Americans and local forests, and seArt Exhibitionveral web-based ecological outreach videos.

In two 1-week artist residencies in 2010, artists met with scientists, conducted field and archive investigations, produced and exhibited original work in the Fisher Museum, and presented seminars for scientists, students, and the general public.