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This article by Euna Kwon Brossman was prepared for the January 5,

edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Nikon’s "Small World"

The Small World photography exhibit features 20 images that are stunning in their color and composition, even more intriguing when you find out what they are. There’s a picture of fish larvae magnified six times, extraordinary because you’re looking through the skin to the skeleton and internal organs. There’s a picture of freshwater algae undergoing cell division so you see it actually in the act of splitting, plant reproduction happening right in front of your eyes. There’s an image that represents a section of a metallic beetle. You can see part of the body, head and eye, the shiny iridescence illustrating the luster of beetle wings, one of the most colorful things you can find in nature.

These are just a few of the memorable images from the 30th annual tour of Nikon’s Small World, a collection of 20 winning photomicrographs from around the world, taking place the galleries of the New Jersey State Museum at 225 West State Street. (Note that, while the main museum is currently closed for renovation, the galleries are open.)

"We are pleased to be the only venue in New Jersey to offer Nikon’s Small World to the public," says Helen M. Shannon, executive director of the New Jersey State Museum. "We have hosted it since 1996. Throughout the past 30 years, this competition’s reputation has grown to be regarded as the leading forum for recognizing art, proficiency, and photographic excellence in photomicrography."

The Small World contest was founded in 1974 to recognize excellence in photography through the microscope illustrating the complex and beautiful world that exists out of the range of the naked eye. Each year Nikon makes the winning images accessible to the public through the Nikon Small World Calendar and a national museum tour. Only 20 winners were selected out of 1,200 images from around the globe.

"We have telescopes that shoot out into space and show us the vastness of the galaxy," says Shirley Albright, the museum’s assistant curator. "Now think of something that takes you in the other direction, allowing you to see a world of beauty on a microscopic level. Photomicrography allows us to see familiar things in a whole new light. It’s looking at the world through a new eye, quite literally."

It was Albright who was responsible for bringing the exhibit to the New Jersey State Museum in 1996. "I had read a very obscure science journal called ‘USA Microscopy and Analyses,’ which is sent out free to people who specialize in microscopy. I enjoyed it because every now and then there would be an interesting article about forensic science used, for example, to determine if a piece of art was a forgery. So I contacted Nikon and the rest, as they say, is history. They were reaching out primarily to science centers. Back then a lot of people weren’t interested, but the interest has blossomed."

Albright’s own interest in the use of microscopes in forensics comes from her late husband, Jeffrey, who was a forensic geologist with the New Jersey State Police in West Trenton. She was working at the museum when she realized that the police had equipment that the museum did not. So the museum partnered with the state police to work on specific projects. For example, one study looked at rocks used by the Leni Lenape Indians in the area to make arrowheads. "We needed fine grained rocks," explains Albright. "We were trying to determine the source of the materials and using microscopes is one of the ways you do that."

Albright was born in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, on a Holstein dairy farm. In 1972 she received her B.S. degree in geology from Juniata College in Huntington, Pennsylvania, where she also studied criminalistics and archaeology. She pursued paleontology on the graduate level at the University of Rochester, while simultaneously studying vocal performance at the Eastman School of Music.

Shortly after her marriage to Jeffrey Albright, a fellow geology major at Juniata, she moved to New Jersey, where she worked briefly for the New Jersey Geological Survey before settling down at the New Jersey State Museum in the winter of 1973. She established a career in natural history exhibition development, research in Devonian invertebrate fossils, and database management. She co-founded several professional organizations, including the international Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections, the Geological Association of New Jersey, and the New Jersey Earth Science Teachers Association. After her husband’s death in 1989, she raised their son, Kurtis, who is now a junior at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.

The pictures in the Small World exhibit range from a magnification of 6x up to 1000x, though most images are in the higher ranges from 200x on up. There are great artists like Van Gogh and Monet whose works captivate the eye, tease the imagination, and uplift the soul with their breathtaking and unforgettable images. Then there is art created by scientists in the course of their research, images that are in themselves works of great beauty, which are created unintentionally. And that, explains Albright, is what most of these images in the exhibit represent. "They were taking the pictures in the course of their research or normal duties and happened to notice their artistry, so they submitted them."

A recent winner who isn’t a scientist is Aaron Messing of West Orange, one of the New Jersey prize winners last year, taking honorable mention for his cross-section of a pine tree. He’s a repeat winner, having taken eighth place the year before with a very simple image of a plant spore. He didn’t use any special dyes or high hi-tech procedures, but won on the basis of composition and the colors that came through.

Albright says that most of the entrants have no formal training in photographic technique and for the most part have picked it up on the job and are fine-tuning it as they go. Sometimes they take courses in professional development at schools that specialize in scientific photomicrography.

"They might take hundreds and thousands of pictures before they get the right one," she says. "There’s lots of experimentation trying to get the cleanest image of the object they’re taking. You’re not always sure what kind of procedures you’ll have to use to get the best image under the microscope. Hence great art can be born, often purely by accident."

As for real-life applications of photomicrograph technique, there’s a big conference every year, the Pittsburgh Conference, known as PITTCOM, that centers on all the scientific lab equipment, including microscopes, ever known to man. PITTCOM 2005 is scheduled for Florida. "It’s a gathering of technicians and scientists, forensic scientists, crime scene investigators, CSI types like the ones on TV," says Albright. "They use this to determine the composition of a complex material. They might use it in forensic science research to illustrate projects or presentations or in gene research."

She explains that the technique is also widely used in industries that use paints and metals. "If you’re in the middle of a research project you may need to present your findings to your company or be called upon to present it at formal science conference," she says. "You can’t just get up there and read your notes. It helps to engage your audience, to call out the ooohs and ahhhs – and a picture is worth a thousand words. It’s important that you substantiate your work with photographic evidence."

First prize this year was captured by Seth Coe-Sullivan from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with quantum dot nanocrystals deposited on a silicon substrate, magnified 200 times. Albright says the picture reminds her of swarming paramecium. "What it’s showing is an inorganic thing, but under the microscope it looks organic and filled with the potential for movement. What looks like microscopic animals is actually about as inorganic as you can get. To me it looks like those amoebas swimming around. The vibrant colors of orange and green and the backdrop of red is very unusual."

Second prize was awarded to Shirley Owens of the Michigan State University Center for Advanced Microscopy with her image of a spiderwort flower anther. Third prize went to Torsten Wittmann of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, for his picture of differentiating neuronal cells magnified 1,000 times.

There is a very nice incentive for scientists to participate in the annual contest. First place takes $3,000 in Nikon photographic equipment or scientific and industrial equipment for use in research. Top prize also includes an all-expense paid trip to be wined and dined at a New York City reception. Second prize is $2,000 in Nikon photographic or scientific equipment.

Albright says the Nikon Small World exhibit has become a highly anticipated annual event, with more and more people learning about it through word of mouth, trying it out for the first time, then coming back every year. The exhibit draws children, their families, and some scientists, not so much those into pure research, but people who are interested in the connection between science and art. It also brings in many adults who love photography.

"This idea of taking images through a microscope might be new to the general population, but ever since people first took a look through the microscope they’ve been trying to take pictures beyond the range of the naked eye," says Albright. "The images shown here employ some very sophisticated technology. It’s not something most people have in their homes. This exhibition opens their eyes to the little world."

– Euna Kwon Brossman

Nikon’s Small World, through February 4, at the Galleries of the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton at 225 West State Street (not at the main museum building, which is closed for renovations), Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed weekends and state holidays. Admission is free. 609-292-6464 or visit

Top Of PageArt in Town

Chapin School, 4101 Princeton Pike, 609-924-7206. "A Different View," a multi-media exhibit by South Brunswick artists Stephanie Galvano Barbetti. Through February 4. Gallery is open by appointment during school hours.

Dynasty Arts, 20 Nassau Street, Unit F, 609-688-9388. The recently opened Chinese antique and art gallery features a silk-screen series, "Last Dynasty," oil and watercolor, and limited edition prints. Artist and owner, Lu Zuogeng, combines Chinese brushwork with Western watercolor. Also, Chinese antique furniture of Ming and Qing dynasties. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

Historical Society of Princeton, Bainbridge House, 158 Nassau Street, 609-921-6748. "Princeton Recollects" exhibition was organized to celebrate the accomplishments of the Princeton History Project. In the 1970s and 80s, the project was dedicated to collecting and preserving memories, and publishing "The Princeton Recollector," a monthly magazine. The exhibition includes original letters, documents, and artifacts. Free. Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

Witherspoon Gallery at Holsome, 27 Witherspoon Street, 609-279-1592. Exhibit of works by Joseph Petrovics, sculptor, and Madelaine Shellaby, photographer. The show, curated by Ann Ridings, is on view through January 24. Gallery hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m.

Numina Gallery, Princeton High School, 151 Moore Street, 609-806-4314 ext. 3170. Inaugural exhibition, "Til Every Art Be Thine," developed as part of the statewide Transcultural Initiative that includes exhibitions by 17 other professional New Jersey museums and galleries. The focus of the multi-media presentation is a controversial mural that occupies Princeton’s Palmer Square post office. Through February 18, 2005. The gallery is open weekdays, 3 to 5 p.m. and other times by appointment. Although guided by John Kavalos, art history teacher at Princeton High School, students run this gallery on their own. It started in 2000 and has expanded to 10 times the original size.

The mural in question, by New York artist Karl Free, was a 1939 New Deal work-relief project. The verse that accompanies the painting was the inspiration for the exhibit title: "America! with Peace and Freedom blest/ Pant for true Fame and scorn inglorious rest. Science invites, urged by the Voice divine, Exert thyself ’til every Art be thine."

The show features interviews with people from a cross-section of Princeton’s population are projected on large screens. Visitors can videotape their own comments in an interactive "voting booth," and this footage will be added to the exhibit.

Top Of PageArea Galleries

Gold Medal Impressions, 43 Princeton Hightstown Road, West Windsor, 609-606-9001. Newly-expanded gallery of photographer Richard Druckman, a freelance photographer for Associated Press. Six rooms and over 250 photographs of professional football, basketball, hockey, tennis, and Olympic events. Photographs for sale are matted and framed and in a variety of sizes and prices. Gallery is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Grounds For Sculpture, 18 Fairgrounds Road, Hamilton, 609-586-0616. A seasonal outdoor sculpture exhibition featuring the ISC Outstanding Student Achievement Awards Exhibition. "Twisted Logic" by Patrick Dougherty," Earthwords and Geoglyphs" by Australian artist Andrew Rogers. Show continues to May 1.

La Principessa Ristorante, Route 27, Kingston Mall, 609-921-3043. "La Dolce Vita, " a collection of original photographs from Italia by Ed Tseng. The exhibition remains on permanent display. Tuesday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 4:30 to 9 p.m.

Plainsboro Public Library, 641 Plainsboro Road, 609-275-2897. "Guy Ciarcia: Retrospective 1990-2004" presents a vibrant selection from three distinctive phases of the artists’s work. The Agamemnon series of Arch painting, boxes featuring dazzling assemblages, and ceramic dishes. Born in Union City, an exhibiting artist since the 1960s, he was a Trenton art teacher from 1967 to 1992. Through January 3. Open Monday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Tuesday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Printmaking Council of New Jersey, 440 River Road, North Branch Station, 908-725-2110. Annual juried members show featuring prints by 31 members. Artworks include woodcuts, etchings, digital prints, and handmade paper. Through January 22, 2005. Wednesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 1 to 4 p.m.

Top Of PageCampus Arts

Princeton University Art Museum, 609-258-3788. Medieval, Renaissance, and baroque galleries are open. The museum’s galleries are open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Tours are given on Saturdays at 2 p.m.

"Bringing into Being: Materials and Techniques in American Prints 1950 to 2000," an exhibition of 30 prints exploring American artists to technical advances in printmaking. Through January 23. "Contemporary Photographs from the Museum Collection." Through February 6.

Top Of PageArt in the Workplace

Bristol-Myers Squibb, Hopewell Campus, 609-252-5120. Outdoor sculpture show features works by seven prominent East Coast artists: Hope Carter of Hopewell, Kate Dodd, Richard Heinrich, John Isherwood, Joel Perlman, John Van Alstine, and Jay Wholley. Exhibition is on view during business hours and will remain in its location for two years.

The artists were selected by a panel composed of Alejandro Anreus, veteran curator and scholar, Jeffrey Nathanson of the International Sculpture Center, and visual artist Sheba Sharrow, working under the guidance of Kate Somers, curator of the company’s corporate gallery in Lawenceville.

Top Of PageArt by the River

Artists’ Gallery, 32 Coryell Street, Lambertville. "Little Gems," an exhibit of small-scale works in many different media. Artists include Joy Barth,Bob Baum, Gail Bracegirdle, and Joy Kreves. Through February 6, 2005. Gallery hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Coryell Gallery, 8 Coryell Street, Lambertville, 609-397-0804. Holiday show features Joanne S. Scott with paintings and prints, and Lucy Graves McVicker with watercolors and mixed media. On view to January 16. Wednesday to Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.

New Hope Arts, Union Square, West Bridge Street and Union Square Drive, New Hope, 215-862-3396. Second annual New Hope Sculpture Exhibition featuring an indoor exhibition of more than 88 works by 43 nationally and internationally recognized artists and an outdoor show of seven large-scale works installed throughout the town. Through April, 2005.

Riverbank Arts, 19 Bridge Street, Stockton, 609-397-9330. Recent work by David Baker. On view through January 31. Open Monday to Wednesday, noon to 5 p.m.; Thursday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Top Of PageArt In Trenton

New Jersey State Museum, Galleries at 225 West State Street, Trenton, 609-292-6464. "Nikon’s Small World," a touring exhibit recognizing excellence in photography through the microscope. Trenton is the only state venue for the exhibit that runs through February 4. Featured images include differentiating neuronal cells from the Scripps Research Institute and an image of a spiderwort flower anther. The gallery is open weekdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Old Barracks Museum, Barrack Street, Trenton, 609-396-1776. "Furniture, Curios and Pictures: 100 Years of Collecting by the Old Barracks," a display in the exhibit gallery is included in the tour admission fee. Open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; the last tour is at 3:50 p.m.

Top Of PageArea Museums

American Hungarian Foundation Museum, 300 Somerset Street, New Brunswick, 732-846-5777. "Enchanting Modern: Ilonka Karasz 1896-1981." Museum hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. Through February 6, 2005.

Hunterdon Museum of Art, 7 Lower Center Street, Clinton, 908-735-8415. Exhibition of unusual, eccentric, and functional furnishings by well-known studio furniture designers and by emerging artists. Guest co-curators are Hildreth York and Ingrid Renard. Museum hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Show runs to January 9. 2005.

James A. Michener Art Museum, Union Square Complex, Bridge Street, New Hope, 215-340-9800. New Hope satellite facility opens with the relocation of the popular, interactive multi-media show, "Creative Bucks County: A Celebration of Art and Artists," featuring 19th and 20th century painters, writers, composers, and playwrights. Also on exhibit, "Pennsylvania Impressionists of the New Hope School." Museum admission $6 adults; $2 youth. Tuesday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. Closed Mondays.

James A. Michener Art Museum, 138 South Pine Street, Doylestown, 215-340-9800. "The Artists Among Us," a permanent interactive exhibit dedicated to the history and legacy of the artists who have made New Hope an internationally recognized arts colony. It is a permanent exhibition. Open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Museum admission $6.50 adults; $4 students.

Also, an exhibition, "Selma Bortner: Body of Work," containing Bortner’s prints from the late 1960s to 2004 including her New Mexico landscape series. On view to January 30, 2005.

Philadelphia Museum of Art, 709-721 Catharine Street, Philadelphia, 215-922-3456. "African Art, African Voices: Long Steps Never Broke A Back," a display of African Art, runs through January. 2, 2005.

Also, an exhibit of 88 paintings focuses on Rajput courts of India from the 17th to 19th centuries. Illustrates themes of pious devotion, poetic love, the play of Hindu gods, and the pleasures and intrigues of court life. Exhibit runs through mid-April 2005.

Zimmerli Art Museum, George and Hamilton streets, New Brunswick, 732-932-7237. "Designs for Theater, Opera, and Dance." Through February 13, 2005. "Transcultural New Jersey: Residents and Visitor, Works on Paper from the Collection of the Newark Public Library. Through January 2, 2005. Pastels in Paris: From the Fin-de Siecle to La Belle Epoque." Through January 30. "Beyond the Border: Picturing Mexico in Children’s Book Illustrations." Through February 6, 2005.

Museum hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Spotlight tours every Sunday at 2 and 3 p.m. Admission $3 adults; under 18 free. Free admission on the first Sunday of each month.

University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 3620 South Street, Philadelphia, 215-898-4000. Australian Aboriginal Paintings of the Wolfe Creek Crater. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. $8, adults; $5, students and seniors. Exhibit runs through Sunday, February 27, 2005.

Zimmerli Art Museum, George and Hamilton streets, New Brunswick, 732-932-7237. Ongoing exhibits are "Art in Paris from Daumier to Rodin" and "Japonisme: Selections from the Collection." Also, "American Photorealism," through March 27, and "Beyond the Limits of Socialist Realism: Part II: Theater Posters from the Soviet Union," through July 31. Museum hours are Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Spotlight tours every Sunday at 2 and 3 p.m. Admission $3 adults; under 18 free. Free admission on the first Sunday of each month.

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