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University of Iowa News Release


Aug. 28, 2007

UI Museum of Natural History to open Biosphere Discovery Hub Sept. 7

The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History will open "The Biosphere Discovery Hub: Iowa's Gateway to our Global Environment" Friday, Sept. 7. The new exhibit will explore human interaction with the Iowa landscape throughout history while addressing both local and global environmental issues.

Several opening events are scheduled, beginning with an opening reception 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7. The opening will also include a live broadcast of KSUI's "Know the Score" program from 5 to 7 p.m. in Macbride Auditorium with guests discussing a month-long series of environmental programs at the UI.

The program, part of the weekly arts and humanities series hosted by Joan Kjaer, will be open to the public free of charge. It can be heard live on radio station KSUI, 91.7 FM (101.7 FM in Dubuque). It will be rebroadcast on KSUI 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9. You may also listen to the broadcast on the Internet at

Other Museum of Natural History events during the Sept. 7-9 weekend will include self-guided tours, family-centered activities, and Safari Story Time at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9. Staff will be available to answer questions about the exhibit over the weekend.

Located within the Hageboeck Hall of Birds on the third floor of Macbride Hall, the Biosphere Discovery Hub is designed to be Iowa's gateway to the global environment. Centered around a satellite photo of the world on the hall's floor, the culturally oriented and research-based exhibit is focused on Iowa, but also oriented toward addressing current environmental issues with global significance. Starting with a display of how ancient people used the land and ending with an explanation of modern-day farming methods, the Biosphere Discovery Hub explores nearly 12,000 years of environmental and cultural change in Iowa.

"Human impact on the land, especially in Iowa, is one of the overriding themes of the gallery, with a focus on current UI research that is attempting to address the consequences of these impacts," said Sarah Horgen, education and outreach coordinator at the Museum of Natural History. "Every culture, past and present, defines a continually evolving set of attitudes and approaches toward nature. This mindset determines how groups interact with the environment and whether their relationship with nature is sustainable in the long term. We want to inspire people to 'save the world' in their own back yards, because every bit helps collectively."

Connected to the Hageboeck Hall of Birds, the Biosphere Discovery Hub also includes displays about extinct bird species, such as the dodo. Visitors can see an early conservation film produced in 1918 about a campaign to save the white egret population on Avery Island in Louisiana.

Interactive displays with videos, quizzes and interactive maps allow visitors to see UI research projects and presentations. Research on hydraulics, nanotechnology, environmental engineering and many other areas is represented the gallery.

The gallery is a permanent addition to the Museum of Natural History, but will be updated with displays of new UI environmental research projects as they evolve. Horgen also plans to hold the UI Explorers Lecture Series in the Biosphere Discovery Hub, with UI researchers presenting their projects for a student and community audience. The first UI Explorers Lecture will be 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, when James Collins of the UI Office of the State Archeologist will talk about circular symbolism in Native American culture.

The Museum of Natural History joined with the Old Capitol Museum in 2004 to form the University of Iowa Pentacrest Museums. The Museum of Natural History explores the human experience as it relates to the natural environments of Iowa and beyond, and Old Capitol focuses on the history and culture of Iowa. The Museum of Natural History is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Thursdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sundays. For more information about the Biosphere Discovery Hub, please call 319-335-0606.

The opening of the this new exhibit coincides with a series of UI events about environmental issues, featuring a public lecture by environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, in the Main Lounge of the Iowa Memorial Union. Other events include an environmental film festival, and the "Health Consequences of Global Warming: Examining the Links, Breaking the Chains" conference. For more information and a full listing of events see or contact the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights at 319-335-3900 or

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Horgen, Museum of Natural History, 319-335-0606,; George McCrory, 319-384-0012,; Writer: Brittany Piehl