Alexander von Humboldt

Alexander von Humboldt was arguably the most important naturalist of the 19th century. Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2020, places American art squarely in the center of a conversation on Humboldt’s lasting influence on the way we think about our relationship to our environment. Humboldt’s quest to understand the universe—his concern for climate change, his taxonomic curiosity centered on New World species of flora and fauna, and his belief that the arts were as important as the sciences for conveying the resultant sense of wonder in the interlocking aspects of our planet—make this exhibition evocative of how art illuminates some of the issues central to our relationship with nature and our stewardship of this planet. Explore a selection of related art and items in the Smithsonian collections.