Mark Dion

Theatre of the Natural World

  • Hunting Blind The Librarian 2008 detail 1

    Hunting Blind (The Librarian) (detail), 2008. Mixed media. Installation view, Mark Dion: Concerning Hunting, Kunstraum Dornbirn, Dornbirn, Austria, 2008. Photo © Adolf Bereuter. Courtesy Georg Kargl Fine Arts, Vienna

14 Feb - 13 May 2018

Galleries 1, 8 & 9

Monday Closed
Tuesday 11am–6pm
Wednesday 11am–6pm
Thursday 11am–9pm
Friday 11am–6pm
Saturday 11am–6pm
Sunday 11am–6pm

Mark Dion: Theatre of the Natural World

14 February  – 13 May 2018

Explorer, collector, activist and conjuror of theatrical environments American artist Mark Dion (b.1961) has travelled through rainforests and rubbish dumps to reveal the wonder and fragility of life on earth. Dion uses specimens – natural and manmade – to make uncanny representations of these environments. His drawings, sculptures and installations draw on the techniques of scientific enquiry and museum display; and on the telling of natural histories.

We embark on a journey through a sequence of installations created between 2000 and the present. A scholar’s study invites us to unravel intricate drawings and models; while the Bureau for the Centre of the Study for Surrealism and its Legacy displays the strange magic of obsolete things. The muddy banks of the Thames have also yielded their treasures for poetic display in a gigantic cabinet; while a Dickensian Curiosity Shop tempts us with the bizarre aura of American bric-a-brac. Each immersive environment is also a habitat, evoking the characters that observe, conserve or exploit the natural world.


About Mark Dion

Mark Dion was born in 1961 in New Bedford, Massachusetts, US and lives in New York with his wife and frequent collaborator Dana Sherwood. He studied at the Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, Connecticut (1981-82), which awarded him a BFA in 1986 and an honorary doctorate in 2002. From 1983 to 1984 he attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and then completed the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program (1984-85). He is an Honorary Fellow of Falmouth University, UK (2014) and has an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (Ph.D.) from The Wagner Free Institute of Science in Philadelphia (2015). Dion has received numerous awards, including the ninth annual Larry Aldrich Foundation Award (2001); The Joan Mitchell Foundation Award (2007) and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Lucida Art Award (2008).  He has had major exhibitions at The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2017); Palais des Beaux-Arts, Paris (2016); Natural History Museum, London (2007); Miami Art Museum, Miami (2006); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2004); Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut (2003) and Tate Gallery, London (1999). For over two decades Dion has worked in the public realm in a wide range of scales, from architecture projects to print interventions in newspapers. Some of his most recent large-scale public projects include David Fairchild’s Laboratory, a permanent installation commissioned for The Kampong, National Tropical Botanical Garden, Coconut Grove, FL (2016); Den, a permanent installation commissioned for the Norway National Tourist Route (2012) and Neukom Vivarium, a permanent outdoor installation and learning lab for the Olympic Sculpture Park commissioned by the Seattle Art Museum (2006); Dion has also produced large-scale permanent commissions for Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany and the Montevideo Biennale in Uruguay (both 2012). His work is held in the collections of Centre George Pompidou, Paris; Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts; The New York Public Library, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York and Tate, London. Dion is co-director of Mildred’s Lane, an innovative visual art education and residency program in Beach Lake, Pennsylvania.

Tate Thames Dig, 1999_crop


Fri 16 Feb 2018, 7pm
Free, booking required

Mark Dion and Professor Dan Hicks consider the way museums construct knowledge, and how artists and curators challenge the stories they tell us.

6 The Chymical Wedding - The King & Queen 2012


Sat 3 Mar 2018, 3pm
£5/£3.50 concs

Artists Robert Williams, Kate Briggs and Jane Topping explore ideas of the alchemical,to discover its mysteries and cultural intersections.


A Natural History of Witchcraft

Sat 10 Mar 2018, 6pm
£5/£3.50 concs

Explore the significance of natural substances in the history of witchcraft, from taxidermy to dried plants.

Costume Bureau 2006

Artist Talk: Mark Dion

Thu 15 Feb 2018, 7pm
£12.50/£10.50 concs

Join the artist Mark Dion Whitechapel Gallery Director Iwona Blazwick to discuss his work.

Find out more

Read the press release

Follow us on