What do you do as an artist, as opposed to what you do as a scientist, and how do you deliver information? I’m delivering information, but I’m also talking to you about my work. I’m talking about how it works visually. 

Diane Burko, painter and photographer

What motivates artists and scientists to observe and investigate our environment? How do creative professionals in both fields make visible largely invisible processes, such as wind patterns and air quality? What methods and instruments have been used to sense shifts in our climate over time?

See our environment—its vitality and vulnerability—with fresh eyes. The art in Sensing Change invites us to consider the local, global, and cultural implications of living in our changing world by presenting new visions of the threats, opportunities, and upheavals we face. Inspired by scientific investigation, historical accounts, and direct observation, the art in this exhibit explores not only daily shifts in our environment but also long-term climate change.

We all have stories to share and observations to record about the world around us. By connecting to our local environment what narratives do we tell? What actions do we take?  

Learn more as you watch video conversations with the artists and oral histories with atmospheric scientists, or as you explore historical context through instruments in our collections.

About Sensing Change

In 2013, the Chemical Heritage Foundation launched Sensing Change, a year-long initiative to explore the interconnections between art, science, and our changing environment. Along with an exhibition highlighting the work of eight contemporary artists, we conducted interviews with nine scientists whose work intersects with issues surrounding climate change. These interviews remain as part of our oral history collection.


It takes many generous supporters to make a large-scale project like Sensing Change a reality. We would like to express gratitude to

  • John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
  • The Dow Chemical Company
  • Public Health Fund
  • Daniel Dietrich Foundation
  • Crystal Trust
  • Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

Additionally we acknowledge U.S. Trust for companion programming and event sponsorship.


We wish to acknowledge the participation of the following organizations in the Sensing Change exhibition and related programs:

  • Air Management Services
  • The Association for Public Art
  • Avenue of the Arts
  • The Center City District
  • City of San Jose, Office of Cultural Affairs
  • Clean Air Council
  • Delaware Valley Green Building Council
  • The Franklin Institute
  • The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability
  • The Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy
  • The Philly Rising Collaborative
  • Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education
  • The Wilma Theater

Even among scientists you have to be engaged at a personal level. If you make that connection with these visuals—oh, there’s something interesting and it affects me, it’s the air I’m breathing—then you’re drawn in a bit more to the conversation that way.

Murray V. Johnston III, professor of chemistry, University of Delaware