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

MF 0096 Luna moth
Dawn Roberts, Collections Manager
April 11, 2014

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:

MF 0164 catepillars Regal

Regal caterpillars

MF 0164 Mothface

Regal moth face

MF 0164 Regal

Regal moth

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

MF 0112
MF 0112a
MF 0112c
MF 0112d

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

MF 0095 Cecropia moth mati

Cecropia moths mating

MF 0096 Luna moth

Luna moth

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