Amid a rising tide of misinformation on the devastating effects we may be having on the planet, the American Museum of Natural History is unveiling a revamped, high-tech climate change exhibit on July 7.
The new installation inside the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth replaces a 20-year-old exhibit with the newest data collected by organizations including NASA and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.
Using a media wall with changing imagery and animations with interactive panels below, visitors to the new exhibit will get a hands-on lesson about how the earth’s climate system works, how it has gotten warmer over time, how our activities have affected the climate, which ones are worse than others and the already-seen consequences of climate change.
With the turn of a dial or a slide of a lever, you can flick back and forth over time to see jaw-dropping data on how storms, sea levels and temperatures have risen across the globe, from the shrinking Arctic ice caps to the forest fires in California and more.
One panel covers climate change’s effects on New York City alone. From flooding in the city’s infrastructure (i.e. subway stations) to the powerful storms we’ve seen in recent years (such as superstorm Sandy), the panel details how New Yorkers have had to change with climate’s effects, including the city’s CoolRoofs program in the South Bronx to keep buildings energy efficient.
There’s also an interactive model of an ice core that dates back more than 110,000 years, which is supposed to show how scientists study past and present climates to make predictions for the earth’s future.
While there’s a lot of information to unpack, the exhibit takes a big picture approach to climate change, aimed at not only sharing up-to-date information, but to encourage an evidence-based understanding of the issues by putting it in the hands of visitors, according to Rosamond Kinzler, the senior director of science education at the museum who co-curated the original Hall of Planet Earth in 1999.
Almost 20 years later, Kinzler isn’t surprised by what has transpired over the years, she told amNewYork inside the exhibit.
“The idea of [climate warming] hasn’t changed since the 1990s,” she said. “We know more now about how the science operates and we are better equipped now to model that system. Forecasts always depend on human choices … and we now have a better understanding of how to communicate with the public.”
The museum says it’s taking on the responsibility of bringing the latest data to the people, especially in light of the continued questioning of whether climate change is even happening, according to Ellen V. Futter, the president of the museum.
“One of the most important responsibilities of the museum is to present the scientific topics of our times to the public in ways that are comprehensible, accessible and engaging,” she said in a statement. “At the same time, misinformation about climate change has become widespread and the museum’s role in fostering greater knowledge and evidence-based understanding is more urgent than ever.”
Starting Saturday, you can see the new installation at the museum, which is open from 10 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. daily at West 79th Street and Central Park West. Tickets start at $23.