WASHINGTON (Feb. 21, 2007)–A new interactive exhibit, “National Geographic MAPS: Tools for Adventure,” will open at the National Geographic Museum at Explorers Hall on Tuesday, March 6, 2007. The kid-friendly exhibit, which runs until July 29, 2007, engages the entire family by demonstrating the role maps play in daily life and by offering collaborative, hands-on activities that help children map their own adventures.
“National Geographic MAPS: Tools for Adventure” was created by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in cooperation with the National Geographic Society and made possible through a lead gift from Lilly Endowment Inc., with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Environmental Systems Research Institute. The exhibit will travel for at least five years to major cities in North and South America and Europe.
“National Geographic MAPS: Tools for Adventure” is filled with activities to help visitors of all ages navigate their way through new technologies and ancient mapping techniques. At the exhibit’s Explorer School, kids can learn the basics of mapping and can manipulate and study historical and contemporary maps to learn how they are used as tools for adventure.
The exhibit includes dynamic elements grouped by land, air, sea and space exploration, and visitors will be introduced to contemporary explorers throughout the display. For example, in the Explorations on Land section, exhibit goers can use a robot to explore hidden shafts and layers of pyramids as does Zahi Hawass, one of the world’s best-known Egyptologists and a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. Or they can step into a Congo trek tent or try their hand at tracking elephants and establishing a park for them as did J. Michael Fay, another National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and Wildlife Conservation Society conservationist. Fay walked 2,000 miles across the forests of Congo and Gabon in 1999 and 2000, documenting rare and vanishing wildlife in a successful effort to establish protected land.
In Explorations in Air, visitors will view a pair of Amelia Earhart’s flight goggles and trace her flight paths across the world on an oversized, interactive wall map. They can also sit in a Lockheed Vega cockpit similar to the one Earhart flew, or try using a sextant to find a location on a map.
In Explorations at Sea, kids can climb into a Hawaiian canoe similar to one used by Nainoa Thompson, the first modern-day Polynesian to learn and use wayfinding for long-distance, open-ocean voyaging. They can also find out how to be a shipwreck explorer like Phil Masters, who discovered Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge, an 18th-century ship, off the coast of North Carolina.
At the Explorations in Space station, visitors can learn more about the work of NASA scientist Nathalie Cabrol and use geologic and topographic maps to navigate a Mars rover via computer. Visitors also will learn about NASA scientist Claire Parkinson, who uses satellite data to study the connection between sea ice and climate.
Also on display will be several unique artifacts such as an original foldout map from the 2nd-edition, 1815 London printing of the account of Lewis and Clark’s expedition; a prop map from “The Goonies” film from producer and director Richard Donner; a map made in China
(c. 1800) showing part of the sea route of Zheng He, famous Chinese explorer of the 1400s; a map of Narnia signed by artist and illustrator Pauline Baynes; a 1617 example of a map by Gerard Mercator of the North Polar regions, the first map devoted to the Arctic regions and showing the world from a polar projection; an orbital chart that shows the path of Apollo 13 as it returned to Earth in 1970, signed by astronaut Fred Haise; and a musical map of Disneyland made by Mattel in 1955, the year Disneyland opened.
“Technology is revolutionizing mapmaking. Maps are more accessible and more important than ever before, increasing our understanding of the richness and diversity of our planet,” said Allen Carroll, National Geographic’s chief cartographer. “Maps inspire us to dream, learn and explore. National Geographic is thrilled to be a part of this important exhibit that will encourage kids to view their world in exciting new ways.”
National Geographic Live! will also feature a Geomania! family program on Saturday, March 24, at 2 p.m. in National Geographic’s Grosvenor Auditorium. In this interactive presentation, Michael DiSpezio, one of the world’s most entertaining science educators, will show how maps help us explore the world. Tickets are $5, and the program is recommended for kids ages 6-12.
The National Geographic Museum at Explorers Hall, 1145 17th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., is open Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed Dec. 25. Admission is free. For information on the “National Geographic MAPS: Tools for Adventure” exhibit, the public should call (202) 857-7588 or visit www.nationalgeographic.com/museum.