Museum’s Simple Suitcase Exhibit about Climate Change [Case Study]

Guest Post from Rachel Gervais, Programme Leader, Travelling Exhibitions / Chargée de programme, expositions itinérantes Canadian Museum of Nature / Musée canadien de la nature writing about Ice Age: Cold Facts about Climate Change, a suitcase-sized exhibition that offers interactive materials for children, and encourages them to think about their relationship with the environment.

How do past environmental shifts help us better understand current issues of climate change? A good place to start looking for answers is in museums’ research, collections and public exhibits.

Among the Canadian Museum of Nature’s (CMN) large and small travelling exhibitions is a suitcase-sized one called Ice Age: Cold Facts about Climate Change. With evidence from the most recent ice age (around 10,000 years ago), this table-top exhibit explores questions such as:

How do we know that such dramatic environmental changes occurred? What caused them? Why did animals, such as mammoths, disappear while others survived?

This information-rich exhibit was the product of larger exhibition on Ice Age Mammals which originally opened in 2005 and showcased many specimens from the CMN’s excellent, scientific collection. Ice Age Mammals continues to tour, as does this suitcase-sized exploration of past climate changes, which has gone to a plethora of museums and other venues across Canada. Compact but brimming with information, it has helped shed light on the complex phenomenon of climate change.

Suitcase Exhibit
To ensure a broad and varied approach, exhibition elements include graphic panels, computer interactives, touchable casts and specimens, books and educational programming materials.

Children are always excited and eager to learn more about the imposing giants that were the mammoths, or even the fierce sabre-toothed tigers. The touchable components are always a big hit. How cool is it to be able to examine a dinosaur bone, a piece of 45-million-year-old wood, and a leaf fossil?

In this Internet Age and obsession with social media, the ability to see and touch specimens and unique learning tools is unparalleled.

Close-up of the specimens
Close-up of the specimens

Entertaining games and interesting fieldwork stories from museum researchers are just a click away on the computer that accompanies the exhibit. Children and adults alike can have fun with the quiz cards, testing their knowledge about the ice age, environmental shifts and climate change.

Considering that environmental shifts are a constant topic and an important preoccupation of today’s society, the need to develop a comprehensive and functional learning tool on the subject was indispensable.

Through travelling exhibitions, research, scientific collections, world-class galleries and unique programmes, the Canadian Museum of Nature continues to increase, throughout Canada and internationally, interest in, knowledge of, and respect and appreciation for the natural world.

Also, on June 21, 2017, the CMN was proud to officially open the new Canada Goose Arctic Gallery. For a fascinating look at a region that is experiencing an unprecedented rate of change, be sure to visit this new gallery.

For more information on the details of the travelling exhibition, click here

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