The Natural History Emporium of Mystery; story and depth of place (captured in a museum display)


This ‘Mapping Nature Museum’ is a old schoolhouse slate, sandblasted with a meticulous map of the Don valley brickworks, beside a display table (installed on a heritage metal lathe) of artifacts and specimens found on the Evergreen Brick Works site. Families, school groups, volunteers and others are able to leave clues in chalk for future visitors that will build a beautiful, living map of natural experience. As a formal program, the boxes are opened allowing people to touch the specimens and use leading questions on cards to jump start the inquiry for teachers and visitors. As a story-building and educational tool, this map and display will soon include a treasure box where new samples can be left by the public and then rotated into the museum, reflecting the interests of the current visitors and the seasonal changes in the space.

This project is about discovering the natural community of the Brick Works, orienting participants in public programs to the yields of the naturalized space, and creating a culture of storytelling around it. All of these specimens are artifacts that in the future could become fossils, but they are able to be the inspiration for stories today that are shared and used to facilitate a deeper connection to place. By physically connecting the map space and specimen display, there will be an open invitation to experience nature, history and storytelling from every individual experience (whether or not visitors are directly participating in formal Evergreen programs). The culture of the Brick Works will continue to grow and evolve as these stories, artifacts and places become interwoven in this artistic interactive display.

Installed in with funds from Evergreen’s Interpretive budget in 2011, the interpretive display was crafted by Charles Jevons (Swordcraft.ca) and the slate map sandblasted by Cobalt Fabrications. the Concept of a personal/public nature museum is well articulated in the book: coyote’s guide to connecting with nature.  This project is a collaboration with Lee Earl, outdoor educator at Evergreen Brick Works.

se this work in its natural habitat here.

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