ants enter the front entrance of the New York Public Library

This exhibition presents excerpts from artist Peter Kuper’s forthcoming graphic novel, which he developed during his tenure as the Jean Strouse Fellow at The New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers in 2020–21. Kuper was inspired by his experiences exploring the Library while conducting research on the history of insects. He began his fellowship during the COVID-19 pandemic and was thus able to access the building during a time when it was closed to the general public. Finding himself virtually alone in the vast Beaux-Arts rooms and hallways of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, he began imagining arthropods occupying this unexpectedly and unprecedentedly vacant environment.

INterSECTS is an homage to the tiny, underappreciated creatures that touch everything people do and on which our very survival depends. The exhibition traces the evolution of insects over 400 million years and narrates their intersection with Homo sapiens right up to the present day—a story that will be expanded when the graphic novel is completed. Kuper also investigates the contributions of entomologists and other naturalists represented in the Library’s vast collection of treasures—including Maria Sibylla Merian, Charles Henry Turner, and Vladimir Nabokov—who dedicated themselves to illuminating the value of insects in all their beauty and mystery.

About Peter Kuper

photo portrait of Peter Kuper sitting in front of a wall where his drawings hang

Peter Kuper is an award-winning cartoonist and lifelong insect enthusiast, who has authored over two dozen graphic novels. His comics and illustrations have appeared regularly in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Nation, Mad, and Charlie Hebdo. He lectures widely and teaches cartooning at Harvard University and the School of Visual Arts.

Listen to INterSECTS

Bring your headphones and mobile device to listen to entomologists and experts talk about the featured insects as you explore the exhibition. The audio guide is accessible onsite or from anywhere on your mobile device.

Downloadable Coloring Sheets

black and white drawing of bugs flying into the entrance of the library

Add your own splashes of color to Peter Kuper's drawings with these free coloring pages! Share your art on social media using #NYPLINterSECTS and tagging @NYPL on Twitter or Instagram.

Download

Selected Books by Peter Kuper

You can check out these books by Peter Kuper using your NYPL library card. Don't have one? Get one today.

You can also check out a list of recommended reading here, or visit the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL) to view a book display inspired by Peter Kuper's INterSECTS.

The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers

photograph of the Cullman Center office showing tables, couches, and books

The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers is an international fellowship program open to people whose work will benefit directly from access to the collections at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building—including academics, independent scholars, creative writers (novelists, playwrights, poets), and visual artists at work on a book project. The Center appoints 15 Fellows a year for a nine-month term at the Library, from September through May. In addition to working on their own projects, the Fellows engage in an ongoing exchange of ideas within the Center and in public forums throughout the Library. Learn more.

Research at NYPL

man sits at study room table and reads laptop

With our expansive historic collections, expert librarians, and a variety of fellowships and learning opportunities available, The New York Public Library is an invaluable resource for writers, scholars, students, and creators worldwide. Learn more.

Acknowledgements

Peter Kuper would like to thank the following for their contributions to the exhibition: Emma Allen, Carlos Alvarez, Chloe Aridjis, Homero Aridjis, Carl Auge, Gal Beckerman, Molly Bernstein, Birkhard Bilger, Nicholas Blechman, Kathleen Brady, Rosa Bozhkov, Charles C. Carter, Joshua Chuang, Jessice Cline, Scott Cunningham, Elena Cunningham, Barbara Demick, Hernán Díaz, Jeremy Dauber, Paul Delaverdac, Philip Dolin, Matthew Dorfman, Michael Engel, Nat Escobar, Betty Farber, Tara Fedoriw-Morris, Aidan Flax-Clark, Ian Fowler, Margaret Glover, Lauren Goldenberg, Steven Hahn, Judy Hansen, Emma Hayley, Martha Hodes, Declan D. Kiely, Amy King, Barrett Klein, Emily Kuper, Gene Kritsky, Becky Laughner, Meghan Lynch, Tom Mayer, Jennifer Mittelstadt, Mark Moffett, Angela Montefinise, Nina Munk, Togara Muzanenhamo, Tal Nadan, Izzy Natale, Gregory Pardlo, Hanna Pylväinen, Susan Rabbiner, Guillaume Rater, Krista Rauth, David Remnick, Riss, Sophia Roosth, Steve Ross, David Rothenberg, Betty Russell, Emily Russell, Salvator Scibona, Julien Serignac, Namwali Serpell, Christopher Shin, Art Spiegelman, Jean Strouse, Colin Stokes, John Thomas, Kyle Triplett, Henk van Assen, Carolyn Vega, Madeleine Viljoen, Joseph Vissers, Henry Wangeman, Jessica Ware, Caroline Weber, Mason Williams, and Joseph Yoon.

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