National History Burial

Paul McCarthy and Raivo Puusemp
Burial, 2006


Paul McCarthy, curating and working on a concept developed by Raivo Puusemp, buried a favorite sculpture of his own making on the grounds of the Naturalis. The resulting work, Burial, reverses the process of unearthing practiced by paleontologists and archaeologists. McCarthy’s with Puusemp’s work was performed on the day of the exhibition opening and documented on film for display in the exhibition. The buried sculpture resides underground as an artifact for future discovery.

The event, if we consider it in reverse, raises a number of questions for natural history museums. While specimens and objects are still buried, do they really exist? Before they’re dug up, do they have any value? When they are recovered, can some sort of price be placed on them?