Your Brain on Art

Scientists throughout the world know Santiago Ramón y Cajal (1852–1934) as the father of modern neuroscience. Now scientists, artists and the public alike know the man to be as important to neuroscience as Einstein is to physics, thanks to The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal, a traveling museum exhibition presenting 80 of Cajal’s original drawings of the brain.

Among the record-breaking audience for this exhibition were more than 16,000 visitors to the Ackland Art Museum, where the exhibition was on display January-April 2019. Carolina was a fitting home for the exhibition; the University has a thriving Neuroscience Center and the second oldest Neuroscience Ph.D. program in the United States. The Ackland drew on this expertise to add a special twist to the exhibition, presenting contemporary images of the brain created by UNC neuroscientists alongside Cajal’s original drawings.

The Ackland’s presentation of The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal was made possible in part by generous support from Betsy Blackwell & John Watson and the UNC Neuroscience Center at the UNC School of Medicine.