1920s Exhibit on Conservation
by Bonnie Isaac
In looking through museum archives, I found a photograph that intrigued me. The image (above) looked very similar to the spring wildflower diorama in Botany Hall, but different in that there was litter on the ground. After some digging around, it turns out that our curators and exhibit designers here at the museum were way ahead of the curve on conservation awareness.
The 32nd annual report of Carnegie Museum from 1929 states:
“One of the ideas underlying the preparation of this group was that of stressing the importance of preserving our wildflowers. In order to present this idea without marring the natural appearance of the main exhibit, there were prepared two miniature exhibits, exact duplicates of the larger one, but showing on the one hand the desecration of such a beautiful spot by thoughtless and destructive picnickers, and, on the other hand, the bleak devastation wrought by fire. These miniature exhibits, one placed on each side of the main exhibit, have attracted much attention and undoubtedly help to serve the desired educational purpose.”
Smokey Bear was created in 1944, and the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. Carnegie Museum of Natural History was raising these concerns in 1928!
The spring wildflower diorama today
Bonnie Isaac is the collection manager in the Section of Botany at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Museum employees are encouraged to blog about their unique experiences and knowledge gained from working at the museum.