This Is Not An Artifact

Rich Pell

The manipulation of life is one of the oldest and most popularly neglected forms of cultural production. Yet it is evident in prehistoric cave dwellings, organic vegetable gardens, concentrated animal feeding operations, and myriad other sites and scenes. PostNatural History is the study of the origins, habitats, and evolution of organisms that have been intentionally altered by humans through captivity, breeding, or engineering. These lifeforms relay stories that challenge and transform our understanding of human culture. Featuring hundreds of entries for collection specimens organized under the postnatural categorical matrix of Isolating, Breeding, Engineering, and Leaking, this book-as-exhibition makes the exceptional collection of the Center for PostNatural History available to a global audience for the first time.


      Founded in 2008, the Center for PostNatural History is an independent museum with a private collection in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since 2 March 2012, CPNH has been visited by thousands of people from all over the world. CPNH is the only museum of its kind in the world—collecting artifacts of the intentional and heritable changes humans make to the living world as natural history museums, nearly without exception, have chosen to ignore this category of life.  


      In 2015, Rich Pell and Lauren Allen contributed an essay to intercalations 2—Land & Animal & Nonanimal. Aptly titled “Preface to a Genealogy of the Postnatural,” this text is an insightful precursor to the forthcoming book. Go here if you’d like to read it! 


      RICH PELL is the founder and director of the Center for PostNatural History (CPNH), an organization dedicated to the collection and exposition of life-forms that have been intentionally and heritably altered through domestication, selective breeding, tissue culture, or genetic engineering. Founded in 2008, CPNH is an independent research center with a private collection that is open to the public one day per week. Since 2 March 2012, CPNH has occupied a storefront in Pittsburgh’s Garfield neighborhood. It has been visited by thousands of people from all over the world. The Center produces traveling exhibitions that have appeared in science and art museums throughout Europe and the United States including the Victoria and Albert Museum and Wellcome Collection in London, the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin, the CCCB in Barcelona, the ZKM in Karlsruhe, the 2008 Taipei Biennial, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, as well as being featured in National Geographic, Nature Magazine, American Scientist, Popular Science, and New Scientist. CPNH has been awarded a Rockefeller New Media fellowship, a Creative Capital fellowship, a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship, and received generous support from Waag Society and the Kindle Project. Pell is a National Academy of Science KAVLI Fellow and was awarded the 2016 Pittsburgh Artist of the Year. He is currently an Associate Professor of Art at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

Rich Pell, This Is Not An Artifact. With guest contributions by Center for Genomic Gastronomy, Terike Haapoja & Laura Gustafsson, Steve Rowell, Nicholas Daly, Ian Nagoski, Roderick Williams, and Oron Catts & Ionat Zurr. Edited by Etienne Turpin. Design by Wolfgang Hückel & K. Verlag



18 x 24 cm

225 pages

Color images

Hardcover, thread-stitching

ISBN 978-3-947858-36-1


Published in 2023