The history of science is riddled with genius ideas, complex inventions, and bizarre theories, but one thing that has stayed consistent for centuries is the use of images to communicate these difficult concepts. Though the power of images has always been honored as a teaching tool, around the 14th-century, western European scholars began to actively incorporate diagrams and illustrations into their scientific writings as a way to make these texts more accessible for non-academics. This trend was part of a larger cultural movement to make science more practical for laborers, craftsmen, and other professionals through the development of scientific instruments, tools, and explanatory writings.

This exhibition explores books and manuscripts that exemplify historical trends in visual scientific communication and analyzes the ways in which these practices were or were not effective in their efforts to aid readers in understanding the books’ contents. As you explore the exhibit, consider the ways the images and visuals you see everyday aid you in understanding the social, cultural, and physical world around you.

True Discourse of the Admirable Appearances, Movements, and Meanings of the Prodigious Comet of the Year 1618. With Demonstrations of its Celestial Location, Grandeur, and Distance from the Earth. Image 1.
Gilles Macé
On Solar Clocks and Quadrants. Image 2.
Oronce Fine
De geheele mathesis of Wiskonst: herstelt in zijn natuurlijke gedaante. Image 1.
Abraham de Graaf
Ioannis de Sacrobusto Libellus de sphaera : accessit eiusdem autoris computus ecclesiasticus, et alia quaedam in studiosorum gratiam edita / cum praefatione Philippi Melanthonis. Image 1.
Johannes de Sacro Bosco
Opera mathematica: in unum volume congesta ac recognita. Image 1
Francois Viete
Christiani Hugenii Zulichemii, dum viveret Zelemii Toparchae, Opera Varia. Image 1.
Christian Huygens
View of the Heavens, being a System of Modern Astronomy. Image 1.
Richard Turner
Dialing: Plain, Concave, Convex, Projective, Reflective, Refractive. Image 1.
William Leybourn
The Poeticon astronomicon : being the illustrious astronomer's exposition of the lore of the world and the heavenly sphere, together with the stories of the planets and constellations. Image 1.
Gaius Julius Hyginus
Four Books on Human Proportions. Image 1.
Albrecht Dürer - Anatomy
Unterweisung der Messung. Image 2.
Albrecht Dürer - Geometry
The Mirror of the World (facsimile). Image 1.
William Caxton

This exhibit was made possible with support from the Caine College of the Arts and the USU Honors Program.