Room: A New Special Exhibits Gallery
The new Special Exhibits Gallery for traveling shows
heralds a new era for bringing blockbuster traveling exhibits to Carnegie
Museum of Natural History and to Pittsburgh.
A large, 8,000-square-foot gallery on the third floor of
the museum has been transformed into a highly flexible space with the
latest in lighting and climate- control systems. This Special Exhibits Gallery will be the home for major traveling shows
that demand the highest environmental standards, and will be a destination
for visitors who want to see the latest museum exhibits.
In the past the museum has suffered from the lack of a
large, well-equipped space for traveling exhibits. The recent exhibit Africa, on tour from the
Field Museum in Chicago, had to
be divided into parts--the humidity and temperature-sensitive material in a
smaller display area, and other materials in a second area. Many major exhibits with ethnographic
materials require space where the total humidity range is limited to a few
percentage points and the temperature fluctuation is no more than a few
degrees. One such exhibit the museum
could not bring to Pittsburgh last year was called Chocolate--the whole history of the delectable subject from the
bean to its billion-dollar products.
Beyond the state-of-the art humidity and temperature
controls, the new gallery has a carpet-tile system with pre-wired
electrical circuits that allows flexibility of exhibit installation. The
decorative base around the walls conceals electrical lines and compressed
air lines, especially important to robotics displays. Twenty movable walls, each 10 x 10 feet,
permit different configurations for exhibits.
The designer of the space, Verner Johnson Associates,
has turned the top-rear floor of the museum, with its closed off skylights
and iron-fenced air well, into highly flexible contemporary space. This was done without changing the
museum's traditional ambience of the existing square columns and high
The new gallery is also the first sign of change in a
long-range plan that allows for the expansion of Dinosaur Hall on the first
and second levels, where the museum plans to develop the premier Dinosaur
exhibits in the country.
The new gallery opens with Passages, featuring photos of African rites of passage. The gallery will house its first
full-scale exhibit with Machu Picchu
in October of 2003.
African Rites of Passage
Passages, May 31 - August
By a recent count, the continent of Africa comprises
some 1,300 cultures. Some of them
number millions of people, some only a few families; some are thriving,
while others are in danger of disappearing, the victims of acculturation
or, in extreme cases, genocide. This
diversity--and the dangers to it--is little known outside of Africa. Photographers Carol Beckwith and Angela
Fisher highlight both subjects in Passages,
an exhibit that chronicles the religious customs of African peoples
through stunning images that illustrate the enduring power of traditional
Among the images in the exhibition are coming-of-age
ceremonies for Maasai boys in Kenya and Krobo girls in Ghana; an
extraordinary stick fight for brides among the Surma of southwestern
Ethiopia; and wedding adornment for Himba brides in northwestern Nambia.
Garden Themes & Birdhouse Dreams IV
May 16, 18, and 23
Powdermill Nature Reserve
The annual spring benefit for Powdermill Nature Reserve,
now in its sixth season, is a success story in the Ligonier area.
Each year local artists create delightfully whimsical or
utilitarian designs of birdhouses or
garden ornaments that are auctioned off to benefit the programs of
Powdermill Nature Reserve. Last year
the auction earned $38,000 for Powdermill, a significant sum for this
regional educational center and research station. Powdermill has been able to upgrade its
technology for educational presentations, and expand its parking with an
area that showcases environmentally sensitive design.
The creative birdhouses and ornaments will be on display
at the Ligonier Library's Caldwell Gallery starting on Friday, May 16. In appreciation for all the people who
participate, the Library will hold an artist's reception on May 18 from
4 to 6 p.m. There are different
awards for entries in the adult and junior groups, and this year a
"Founders Award" of $500
will be presented to the favorite entry selected by H and Pat Childs of G
Squared Gallery in Ligonier. The
Childs started the benefit in 1997.
On Friday, May 23,
the entries will be moved to Powdermill for an auction that
evening. It is an evening of fun and
refreshments. Advance reservations
of $30 per person are required, which includes dinner, entertainment, and
Artists can register online or at the Ligonier Valley
Chamber of Commerce, or download fax registrations from the benefit's
website at http://www.birdhousedreams.com. Registration is mandatory and must be
received no later than May 15. For
more information, call education director Theresa Rohall at 724.593.6105,
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring at Powdermill
June 6—11, Powdermill Nature Reserve
Powdermill Nature Reserve will host the second Bioforay to study the species that
live in a selected area of the nature reserve. A bioforay is more scientifically
focussed than a "Bioblitz," which simply counts and identifies as
many different species in a large are as is possible within a given time
frame. The bioforay selects certain taxa or multiple groups of living
things, and after surveying their locations within narrowly defined areas,
allows for speculation about the relationship of one life form to another. For example, if land snails and
craneflies are both plentiful in an area of several meters, a scientist can
analyze the common environmental factors that attract them. Do they like a certain plant? Do they depend in some way upon each
Tim Pearce, Curator of Mollusks and an expert on
gastropods, says this is the kind of science that excites him. Many
"avocational naturalists"--who used to be called,
because they loved the subject but were not paid--feel the same way. It's the fascinating web of life that
intrigues the scientific imagination, and not just the statistics of how
many species are found in a study area.
Field studies will be conducted by museum curators and staff, as well
as by scientists from area universities.
The public is invited to the Florence Nimick Center at
Powdermill free of charge during the Bioforay,
but avocational naturalists who want to work in the field alongside the
scientists must register and pay a fee.
The field days for research are Saturday, June 7, and Monday through
Wednesday, June 9-11. Sunday, June
8, is a workshop day with public programs.
For more information, call 724.593.6105.
2002 Carnegie Mineralogical Award
The winner of this prestigious annual award for 2002 is Dr.
Terry C. Wallace, Jr., professor of Geosciences and Curator of the
University of Arizona Mineral Museum.
Considered the foremost expert on silver and silver minerals in the
United States, Dr. Wallace "is also very active in the professional
and lay mineral communities," says Marc Wilson, head of the Section of
Minerals and Gems at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. The award was presented by Director Bill
DeWalt of Carnegie Museum of Natural History at the Tucson Gem and Mineral
show on February 15. curator of the University of Arizona
Mineral Museum, Wallace changed a traditional specimen-based university
museum into an active institution with a broad educational mission. He not only developed the collection, but
attracted amateur collectors and mineralogists, and involved the
kindergarten through high school
educational community in Tucson.
The Carnegie Mineralogical Award was established in 1987
through the support of the Hillman Foundation, and is now recognized as a
premier award for outstanding service in mineralogical preservation,
conservation and education.