Tooth ‘palace’ sculpture goes on display at the Science Museum
Sculpture made of baby teeth raises challenging questions about stem cell research
Do you believe in recycling yourself? This idea is explored by artist Gina Czarnecki, who is asking people to donate their milk teeth for Palaces – a unique art-science project that asks us to consider the potential of the parts of our body which are lost naturally during life. The artwork will open at the Science Museum on Friday 30 March.
The striking two metre high sculpture, which has been likened to a fairy grotto or the ‘”tooth fairy palace”, is constructed from clear crystal resin. The sculpture will feature milk teeth donated by the public from both the UK and around the world. The sculpture will grow over time as people continue to donate their teeth to the project.
“Palaces” results from a collaboration between Czarnecki and stem cell biologist Sara Rankin. The project aims to raise real and relevant questions about the idea that adult stem cells can be extracted from milk teeth and may in future be used to repair damaged organs.
The pair met at Imperial College when Czarnecki attended one of Rankin's stem-cell workshops. Rankin now makes visits to schools to talk to children aged seven upwards about the potential of inventing new medicines to help the body repair itself.
Gina Czarnecki said, “Milk teeth are a sign of transition and growth and this project draws on the tooth fairy myth which is so popular among children. The aim of the artwork is to increase public understanding of the biomedical possibilities of stem cell research and we really hope to inspire children to get involved by donating their milk teeth to help create the artwork.”
Nicola Burghall, Project Leader, Science Museum said, “Palaces shows how artists and scientists can work together to inspire the public and raise important questions – something that the Science Museum actively supports. The artwork makes a fitting addition to our Who Am I? gallery which deals with identity and biomedical science.”
Hannah Redler, Head of Science Museum Arts Projects said "Gina Czarnecki's captivating works are extraordinary to look at and focus our attention on some of the fundamental ethical questions raised by advances in biomedical science through the probing questions they raise."
Members of the public can still contribute their milk teeth to the display via a dedicated Palaces website. Tooth donators can also download a tooth token as a replacement for the tooth fairy. Visit palaces.org.uk/donate-your-tooth.
PALACES is a FREE public artwork that will be on show in the Science Museum’s Who Am I? gallery from Friday 30 March until 28 June. For further visit www.sciencemuseum.org.uk or #Palaces.
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