At a time where science's role in American culture seems especially contested, this project focuses on the tension between academic and popular science—examining the divide in access to knowledge caused by professionalization, the role of the amateur, the voices that inspire, and the politicized nature of science education and public policy through the story of an unusual and appealing microscopic animal called the water bear.

Installation in front window at Art Coop, Inc. art supply store, Lincoln Square Village, Urbana, Illinois.

Microscope, petri dish, glass vials, moss, pencil sketches, hand-sewn stuffed water bear, Dr. Who TARDIS mug, gold mylar disc, carpet, furniture, descriptive text placards, chalk drawing of stars on paper; books: Micrographia, by Robert Hooke (1665), The Biology of Tardigrades, and The Philosophical Breakfast Club: Four Remarkable Friends Who Transformed Science and Changed the World by Laura J. Snyder; Article printouts: Foldscope schematic, vaccine technology and water bears; X-ray image of Alan Shepard’s Apollo 14 spacesuit and microscope image of a tardigrade; television with still image of Carl Sagan from Cosmos: A Personal Voyage (aired in 1980 on PBS); printed backdrop magnified from an illustration in Pond Life: A Golden Nature Guide (1967); wooden stand; plywood diorama box; miniature diorama of Anton Van Leeuwenhoek’s fabric shop.

Photos: Will Arnold, except where noted.