June 04 2015

Mind Illuminated: Art and the Brain at the Mütter Museum

Brainbow Hippocampus, 22K gilded microetching in custom frame, 2014

Opening Reception for the Public: July 9, 2015 from 6-8pm

Duration of Exhibit: until end of December 2015

PHILADELPHIA, PA – This summer the Mütter Museum is showcasing Mind Illuminated, a dazzling solo exhibition featuring the work of Philadelphia artist and neuroscientist Greg Dunn. Dunn’s paintings of neurons rendered in an Asian art style have been widely acclaimed for their fusing of art and science, earning him a recent exhibit at the New York Hall of Science and coverage in Wired, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Scientific American, and many other national and international publications. Dunn also received a top prize in the National Science Foundation’s International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge in 2013. 

In addition to paintings on gold leaf and hanging scrolls, Mind Illuminated will consist of microetchings of vast networks of neurons created in collaboration with Dr. Brian Edwards, an artist and applied physicist at the University of Pennsylvania.  Microetchings integrate art, optics, and engineering to give two dimensional surfaces an extra dimension of directional reflectivity, imparting unprecedented levels of clarity and expressivity to complex neural forms.

“Microetchings allow the viewer to clearly perceive complex images in a way that is impossible through two-dimensional renderings,” says Dunn of the Mind Illuminated exhibition. The centerpiece of the exhibit will be a large microetching that integrates the unmistakable parallels between the forms and behaviors of biological neural networks and traffic patterns of the city of Philadelphia.”

Robert D. Hicks, PhD, Director of the Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library, says, “We are very excited to exhibit Philadelphia artist Greg Dunn’s pieces in our new contemporary art gallery space. When we first saw Greg’s images of neuro-matter shimmering with gold leaf and presented as sumi-e scrolls, we were dazzled. Usually associated with Japanese or Chinese contemplative inked scenes of mountain passes and landscapes, scrolls of this style, in Greg’s hands, imagine the neural universe of our thoughts and memories. Teamed with another artist-scientist Brian Edwards, Greg has undertaken a series of what they call microetchings that suggest the physical dimension of human consciousness much as the Hubble Space Telescope has shown our universe back to the beginning of time.”

Mind Illuminated will be on display in the Thomson Gallery at the Mütter Museum from July until the end of the year. Entrance to the Gallery is included with entrance to the Museum. Visitors should check opening hours at or by calling (215) 560-8564.


About Artist Greg Dunn: Dr. Dunn received his PhD in neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011. While a graduate student, Dunn fused his love of Asian art and neuroscience into expressive pieces demonstrating that the qualities of neural forms cleanly fit into the aesthetic principles of minimalist Asian art and sumi-e scroll and gold leaf painting. Dunn is now a full time artist out of Philadelphia where he works to incorporate his knowledge of neuroscience, physics, and biology into the artistic process through imagery, concept, and technique. His work hangs at Johns Hopkins, Carnegie Mellon, the Society for Neuroscience headquarters, as well as universities, institutions, and private collections all over the world.


The College of Physicians of Philadelphia was founded in 1787, now one of the oldest professional medical organizations in the country, when 24 physicians of Philadelphia gathered "to advance the science of medicine and to thereby lessen human misery." Today, more than 1,400 Fellows (elected members) continue to convene at the College and work towards better serving the public. 

The College is home to the Mütter Museum and the Historical Medical Library. The Mütter Museum is America’s finest museum of medical history, which displays collections of anatomical specimens, models and medical instruments in a nineteenth-century setting. This includes a biannual rotation of art exhibits that accompany the themes and aims of the museum’s collections.

The Mütter Museum helps the public appreciate the mysteries and beauty of the human body while understanding the history of diagnosis and treatment of disease.

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