Arthropods, which include spiders, crustaceans, centipedes and especially insects, account for approximately 80% of all living animal species on earth. Hence one can hardly say that humans are the predominant species on “our planet”. If insects ceased to exist from one day to the other, this loss would cause unpredictable damage to our ecosystem, whereas humans would be rather dispensable. Nevertheless, only few of us show an interest in these creatures, although they are always around us. Many people even despise them.

In this exhibition, we would like to contribute to a better understanding of the world of arthropods. They seem to live in a different world which is nevertheless part of our own. For this purpose, hobby photographer Marco Baum and hobby entomologist/ scientist Veit Grabe teamed up in order to provide insights into a fascinating world, which is often hidden even to scientists in the labs, unless they are very experienced and lucky.

The images displayed are montages which have been put together from numerous individual pictures. The image scale between picture and insect is up to 9:1, resulting in a highly reduced depth of field. This does not allow catching all fascinating details of such a tiny animal in one shot. In order to gain the desired insights, the whole camera system was mounted on a slider. It could be moved forward in steps that were as tiny as a twentieth of a millimeter. The stack of images obtained from this process was then compiled to a coherent overall picture with painstaking attention to detail.

Large pine weevil (Hylobius abietis).
© Marco Baum

We invite you to experience the fascinating beauty of this microcosm, which is usually hidden from us. The portrait perspectives enable you to look straight into the eyes of these unique creatures. Many of the insect species in this exhibition are studied in the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology because researchers want to reveal the interactions between insects, plants and bacteria and decipher their mean of communication. The overarching goal is a better understanding of the world in which we are living and of the role we play in it.

The exhibition ARTHROPORTRAITS can be visited until Wednesday, October 18, 2017, in the entrance hall of the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knöll-Straße 807745 Jena.
Opening Hours: The exhibition is open for visitors from Monday to Friday between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
There are no entrance fees.

If you want to view these unique images outside this exhibition, please visit