Richard Barnes's photographs touch on themes related to science, history, archeology, and architecture. His interest in photography as a means to think about and represent the past developed in the 1990s, when he documented archaeological excavations in Abydos, Egypt. After directly observing the trajectory of artifacts from their excavation to their placement in museums, Barnes began a body of work based on the role of the museum in contemporary culture. Barnes has extended his research to include the collections of the Museum of Comparative Anatomy in Paris, the Peabody Museum at Yale University, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. His latest projects include Phylum and Refuge, a study of the architecture of bird nests made from materials typically disposed of by humans.