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'Stories beneath our feet': Geology exhibit opens at Weather Discovery Center

By Tom Eastman
CONWAY — Plymouth State University’s Museum of the White Mountains, in collaboration with Mount Washington Observatory, is presenting “To the Extremes: The Geology of Adventure in the White Mountains,” March 28 through May 28 at the Mount Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center in North Conway.
photobyjerrymonkmanThe exhibit features 24 photographic and text panels that detail the connections between geological history and recreation in the White Mountains. (JERRY MONKMAN PHOTO)Organized by the newly-opened Museum of the White Mountains and curated by New Hampshire-based writer and science educator Sarah Garlick, the exhibition features 24 photographic and text panels that detail the connections between geological history and recreation in the White Mountains.
An opening reception was held at the Weather Discovery Center on Thursday, March 28.
“Our favorite hikes, climbs, and ski runs are tied to rich geologic histories … there are stories beneath our feet,” Garlick says. “I think we often view the mountains as an inert landscape — an environment that we explore and inhabit, a setting for our adventures. But the mountains have their own stories — how the different rock formations came to be, how the mountains have been sculpted through time, sometimes slowly, sometimes very fast, and how they continue to change today. This exhibit allows us to explore the connections between our mountain adventures and the stories of the mountains themselves. It gives you a sense of being connected to a much bigger picture, a much longer tale.”
“To the Extremes” examines the science, art, culture and recreation of the White Mountains, with a special emphasis on mountain tourism and recreation. The exhibition is part of a larger educational project called “Beyond Granite: A History of Mountains and People,” which also includes online resources at plymouth.edu/museum-of-the-white-mountains, and an exhibition at the Museum of the White Mountains in Plymouth, slated to open in March 2014.
“This is another way for the new museum to learn how to best meet the needs of our growing audiences,” says Museum of the White Mountains director Dr. Catherine Amidon. “Not only will people be able to see the touring exhibition in various sites and online, but they will be asked to share feedback online. Though technology, user-generated feedback and even content will help us to shape the second exhibition. This is the kind of interactive experience that will help make the history, culture and environmental legacy of the region more personal and immediate for participants.”
The exhibition includes topics like the connection of a geologic event such as a landslide and how that precipitates activities like hiking, downhill and backcountry skiing, modern day rock and ice climbing. It also explains the impact of climate change on the region, and the science behind the formation and eventual destruction of the Old Man of the Mountains.
“We talk a lot in New Hampshire about of our love of the White Mountains; if you’re a hiker, a skier, climber, this exhibition will take that passion and bring it to another level and explore why we have the mountains that we have,” notes Garlick. “It allows people to take their love for the outdoors and explore them in a deeper way — to make those connections and have a deeper understanding of the mountains themselves.”
After the March 28–May 28 display at the Weather Discovery Center, “To the Extremes” will appear as a traveling exhibit around New Hampshire as an outreach project of the Museum of the White Mountains.
For more information, call the observatory at 356-2137 or visit http://www.plymouth.edu/museum-of-the-white-mountains.
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