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Motion Film Collection Highlight: Leon F. Urbain (1887-ca. 1980)

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Tags: Chicago Academy of Sciences, collections, motion film, Leon F. Urbain, microscopy, photography, moth, minerals, Microscopal Society of Illinois

Created: 4/11/2014      Updated: 8/9/2016

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This blog post continues our Motion Film Project series. Post #1 titled: The Motion Picture Cataloguing Project can be viewed here. Stay tuned for a third blog post coming soon.

Leon F. Urbain, through his association with the Microscopal Society of Illinois, gave free classes for students in the 1960s at the Chicago Academy of Sciences' museum (the old Laflin Memorial Building). An architect by trade, he had a passion for photography, especially photomicrography, whereby he could bring the smallest worlds to life. His motion films include studies of minerals, plants, insects, aquatic life, and ecology. The Academy's collections include personal papers, photographs, motion film, and microscope slides from Urbain. Here is a sample of those tiny worlds Urbain captured and shared with others.

From Urbain's film, “The Regal: Rarest of Local Moths,” created in 1972:

Film still of Regal Caterpillars
Regal Caterpillars

Film still of Regal Moth
Regal Moth Face

Film still Regal Moth
Regal Moth

Here are images from a  time-lapse film of crystals growing under a microscope, titled "Crystals Growing," created in 1967:

Film still of crystals growing

Film still of crystals growing

Film still of crystals growing

Film still of crystals growing



Images from two films on moths, ca. 1958, "Cecropia" and "Luna Moth:"

Cecropia moths mating
Cecropia moths mating

Luna moth
Luna moth

Dawn Roberts
Collections Manager

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