Visitors can view the refurbished building (formerly the Arup Building) for the first time when exhibition Conflicted Seeds + Spirit opens to the public on 9 March.

The tree elements came through our realisation that the building is on the site of the old botanic garden. There is a sense of overlaying history there - zoology and botany - and animals and plants have been very important within our work for the past 25 years.

Artist Heather Ackroyd

The new-look David Attenborough Building opens its doors to the public for the first time next week for an art exhibition that celebrates the pioneering partnership between conservationists and the University of Cambridge.

The show features photographs of Museum Of Zoology specimens preserved in alcohol (termed “spirits”) partnered with tree saplings grown from seeds collected from the specimen’s natural habitat.

A second artwork, Seeing Red..Overdrawn, will be an interactive 23ft long, 10ft high printed list of more than 4,700 endangered species, and will be on display beside Stranded, a 19ft long crystal encrusted whale skeleton.

The artists behind them, Ackroyd & Harvey (Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey), are famous for their living artworks including 2007’s ‘FlyTower’ for which they grew seedling grass over part of London’s iconic National Theatre, and History Trees, ten living sculptures marking entrances to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Ackroyd says: “The tree elements came through our realisation that the building is on the site of the old botanic garden. There is a sense of overlaying history there - zoology and botany - and animals and plants have been very important within our work for the past 25 years.”

The exhibition is part of a drive to open up the University of Cambridge’s New Museums Site, where the David Attenborough Building is based, to the public, which will see three new public courtyards created over the next ten years.

A new public artwork by Ackroyd & Harvey around the new Corn Exchange Street entrance to the building will also be unveiled when the exhibition opens.

The 30ft long by 20ft high spiral slate sculpture will be installed on the facing wall of the stairway leading to the exhibition space and and a new conservation campus created by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative (CCI).

CCI is a collaboration between leading biodiversity conservation organisations and the University of Cambridge. The sculpture is inspired by mathematician Fibonacci's “golden ratio” spiral.

Refurbishment work on the David Attenborough Building is due to be completed in April with the Museum of Zoology scheduled to reopen on its lower floors later this year.

The free art show (9 March-17 April) is part of the University of Cambridge’s Science Festival (7-20 March).

As part of the festival, the Museum of Zoology is offering the public a preview of its new galleries, the chance to handle specimens and craft making on Saturday 12 March.

Normally closed to the public, the CCI campus will also be open to visitors on 12 March for a day of hands-on activities and talks. Access to all events at the David Attenborough Building will be via the Corn Exchange Street entrance.

For more information, visit www.sciencefestival.cam.ac.uk


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