On View Image
a cross-section of a brain
ON TOUR | The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal
January 28, 2017 - April 7, 2019
rainbow dots of paint
Jeff Lichtman, Joshua Sanes, and Jean Livet, Brainbow, 2007.

After debuting at the Weisman Art Museum, The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal exhibition traveled to university art museums in the U.S. and Canada. See below for the full  traveling schedule.

Santiago Ramón y Cajal, considered the father of modern neuroscience, was also an exceptional artist. He drew the brain in a way that provided a clarity exceeding that achieved by photographs. Combining scientific and artistic skills to produce drawings with extraordinary scientific and aesthetic qualities, his theory that the brain is composed of individual cells rather than a tangled single web is the basis of neuroscience today. This traveling exhibition of Cajal’s original drawings was organized by the Weisman Art Museum in collaboration with Drs. Eric Newman, Alfonso Araque, and Janet Dubinsky, neuroscientists at the University of Minnesota and leaders in the field of neuroscience. Dr. Araque was formerly at the Instituto Cajal in Madrid, where Cajal worked and where his drawings are housed.

The exhibit is organized in collaboration with Ricardo Martinez Murillo, neuroscientist and curator of the Cajal Legacy at the Cajal Institute (CSIC) in Spain. Eighty of Cajal’s drawings, many appearing for the first time in the United States, will be accompanied by a selection of contemporary visualizations of the brain, photographs, historic books, and scientific tools. After the debut at WAM, the exhibition will travel to university galleries and museums throughout the United States and Canada.

a brown book with a tree on the cover

ABRAMS has published a book to accompany the exhibition.The book is available for purchase in the WAM Shop. The book contains full color reproductions of all eighty of the exhibition drawings, commentary on each of the drawings, and essays on Cajal’s life and scientific contributions, his artistic root and achievements, and contemporary neuroscience imaging techniques.


The Beautiful Brain Tour Schedule

January 28 – May 21, 2017 | Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota
Minneapolis MN
September 5 – December 3, 2017 | Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery,
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
January 9 – March 31, 2018 | Grey Art Gallery, New York University
New York City, New York, USA
May 2, 2018 – December 31, 2018 | MIT Museum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
January 27 – April 7, 2019 | Ackland Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

Support from Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Public Understanding of Science, Technology and Economics program allows WAM, in partnership with The Cajal Institute and the four partner university museums, to build bridges between science and the humanities by distributing books free of charge to university libraries and students and teachers in local high-schools.

Top image: Santiago Ramón y Cajal, glial cells of the mouse spinal cord, 1899, ink and pencil on paper. Courtesy of Instituto Cajal (CSIC).