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Fragile Beauty: The Art & Science of Sea Butterflies,” was a collaboration between Cornelia Kubler Kavanagh, sculptor, and Dr. Gareth Lawson, biological oceanographer and director of the Lawson Lab at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Their exhibition drew attention to potential dangers posed by ocean acidification on pteropods, transparent mollusks at the bottom of the marine food web, also known as “sea butterflies.” Though abstract, Kavanagh’s larger-than-life sculptures evoked the vulnerability of these beautiful microorganisms, while Lawson explained the science that inspired Kavanagh’s work.

The exhibition was inaugurated September 17, 2013 and on display through June, 2016

• Read Smithsonian Magazine article “The Gorgeous Shapes of Sea Butterflies”

Read “Ocean Art at its Finest – The Smithsonian Brings It”

Read “Sea butterfly Effect: Climate Change and Artistic Metamorphosis”

Photos: display case, Jim DiLoreto/ Smithsonian Institution, pteropod sculptures, John Gould Bessler