The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal

Through December 31, 2018

The drawings will elicit stupefied awe from art enthusiasts, who use their brains without knowing how they work, and excited chatter from visiting neuroscience types. (New York Times, January 18, 2018)

Santiago Ramón y Cajal made transformative discoveries of the anatomy of the brain and nervous system, work that led to his receiving a Nobel Prize in 1906. This founder of modern neuroscience was also an exceptional artist. His drawings of the brain were not only beautiful, but also astounding in their capacity to illustrate and understand the details of brain structure and function.

The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal will include approximately 80 of Cajal’s drawings, many rarely before seen in the U.S.

These historical works will be complemented by contemporary visualizations, many from MIT laboratories, bringing to view new understandings of the brain, enabled by developing technologies in the field of brain and cognitive science.  

Want to delve deeper into topics related to The Beautiful Brain?




Spotlight Tours
Explorations led by local and Spanish scientists, artists, and entrepreneurs who will share their unique perspectives on particular aspects of the exhibition. (2:00 p.m. on select Tuesdays and Saturdays). Limited tickets available at 1:30 p.m. on day of event for Museum visitors of age 12+ on a first-come, first-served basis.

Sat, Jun 23 - Francisco Martin-Martinez, Research Scientist in MIT’s Laboratory for Atomistic & Molecular Mechanics and President of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology.  Sat, Jul 21 - Alex Gomez-Marin, Principal Investigator of the Behavior of Organisms Laboratory in the Instituto de Neurociencias, Spain.  Tue, Jul 31 - Julie Pryor, Director of Communications at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT.  Sat, Aug 18 - Andre Bastos, Postdoctoral fellow, Miller Lab, MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences.  Tue, Aug 28 - Satrajit Ghosh, Principal Research Scientist at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School, and faculty member in the Speech and Hearing Biosciences and Technology program in the Harvard Division of Medical Sciences.

Idea Hub
Drop in and explore expansion microscopy in our maker-space.

Visualizing Science Workshop
Experiential learning with micro-scale biological images. (pre-registration required)

Gallery Demonstrations
Researchers share the latest on neural anatomy, signal transmission, and modern imaging techniques.


Cerebral Cinema Series
Hear from researchers and then compare real science to depictions on the big screen.

Brainy Trivia
Test your brain power in a night of science trivia and short, snappy research talks.

Come back to see our exciting lineup for the fall!



The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramon y Cajal was developed by the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota with the CSIC's Cajal Institute, Madrid, Spain.
Major exhibition support provided by:
Sustaining exhibition support provided by:

Contributing exhibition support provided by:
Additional exhibition support provided by the Associate Provost for the Arts, and the Council for the Arts at MIT.

Image: Santiago Ramón y Cajal, glial cells of the cerebral cortex of a child, 1904, (detail) ink and pencil on paper. Courtesy of the Cajal Institute, Spanish National Research Council, or CSIC. Madrid. Spain.