Art21 Extended Play

Mark Dion | “Neukom Vivarium”

EXCLUSIVE: Mark Dion leads a discussion of his installation Neukom Vivarium (2006) at the Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle.

Mark Dion’s work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. Appropriating archeological and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects, Dion creates artworks that question the distinctions between “objective” (“rational”) scientific methods and “subjective” (“irrational”) influences.

Mark Dion, “Neukom Vivarium,” 2006. Courtesy the Seattle Art Museum

SEE: More images, videos, and news for Mark Dion.

LEARN: Mark Dion is featured in the Season 4 (2007) episode Ecology of the Art:21—Art in the Twenty-First Century television series on PBS.

DISCUSS: What do you think about this video? Leave a comment!

PHOTO | Mark Dion, Neukom Vivarium, 2006. Courtesy the Seattle Art Museum.

VIDEO | Producer: Susan Sollins & Nick Ravich. Camera: John Gordon Hill. Sound: Charles Tomaras. Editor: Steven Wechsler. Artwork courtesy: Mark Dion. Thanks: Olympic Sculpture Park.


  1. Marge Levy says:

    I LOVE the Mark Dion piece and spend 3 hours with it each and every Sunday. I volunteer at SAM Olympic Sculpture Park as an Ambassador. It changes all the time and I change as I learn more, see more, watch the changes, learn more about 19 and 20c. naturalists. It is a wonderful thing..a work of art and a place of thought and learning. I am proud of Mark and his vision and proud to present his work to the public every Sunday. And I wear the same orange vest he is wearing. Come by and say hello if your read this and i will give you a special treat.

  2. Thanks Marge! It’s been about a year since Art21 has been out to the Vivarium…would you be able to describe some of the changes you’ve seen over the past year?

    And as a dedicated guide, what do you make of being part of Dion’s artwork in your orange vest?

  3. Marge Levy says:

    Changes…well, the visitors have changes a bit. In the beginning it was a wild range of curious types from all walks of life and now we see more intergenerational families who have made the Olympic Sculpture Park a family destination. There are many more people who have heard about the Vivarium or Mark Dino too.

    Physically, the exhibition is very healthy with little dirt showing and the plants getting more entwined. The artist conks are bigger and the sprouting firs, hemlocks, alders, spruce and cedar are still cute young things with all the character they will have as big trees.

    The red elderberry keeps growing by leaps and leaps and we have to cut it down or trim it periodically. We have had some new plants emerge that were not there earlier: False Salomon Seal and Goat’s Beard. The Oregon Grape and the Salal have berries that look good enough to eat!

    The Banana Slug population grew too large and we treated some of them to a beer party…and the population, now diminished, is down to a hardy sober smaller number. Only abstainers survived I think.

    In my orange vest I have to be a teacher and guide so I have learned about more of the backgrounds of the botanists, ecologists, preservationists, and artists that Mark listed in tiles on the walls. learning that stuff takes dedication

    In general,I like being the interpreter of the work and like talking to people. I knew little about native plants when I started and know a lot now…and have planted a native garden at my own home.

    Please do drop in on SUnday afternoons and visit!

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