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When words fail you, a picture may be worth a thousand. Yet sometimes even a photo can’t get across what you’re trying to convey—especially when it comes to observations of the natural world. Enter the art of scientific illustration. Elaine Hodges, co-curator of the National Museum of Natural History’s exhibit “Eyes on Science: Illustrating Natural History,” will explain how artists “picture” science with an overview of historic and contemporary examples from a collection of more than 40 black-and-white and color drawings, paintings, sketches, and models by a score of 19th- and 20th-century American artists (pictured, Notothenia copper plate, circa 1885, by John H. Richard). In the exhibit, actual specimens, from a triceratops skull to a tiny wasp, are paired with many of the works. “Often the illustrator must visually interpret the data or specimen, distinguishing between what is important and what is inconsequential, clarifying structure and anatomy,” says Hodges, a Smithsonian illustrator. “Eyes on Science” runs through Jan. 1. At noon at the Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium, 10th & Constitution Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 357-2700. (Julie Wakefield)