March 21 might be the first official day of spring, but Earth Day, a month later, can feel like the beginning of the warmer seasons – at least in Montreal. The Redpath Museum, which recently reopened to the public, commemorated Earth Day this year through a series of themed activities over several days.
In the week leading up to April 22, museumgoers were greeted by several special temporary features at the Redpath, including an interactive board on which visitors were encouraged to place words related to the natural world and make links between them. The result, a mosaic of handwritten notes and drawings, was a visualization of the interconnectedness of life on Earth.
In the same spirit, a “drawing wall” was set up by artist Milton Riaño in the museum’s main gallery; visitors drew their vision of a world abundant and rich with reimagined community experience. A beginner-friendly yoga session held in the museum rounded out the week’s activities.
Galleries come alive
The museum was then exceptionally open on a Saturday for Earth Day, welcoming over 350 visitors for the occasion. “It was the first time in a few years that we were open on a Saturday for regular visits, and it was wonderful to see our galleries alive again during the weekend,” said Shawn McCutcheon, Administrative Coordinator at the Museum. “Earth Day represents a significant moment at the Redpath, as it corresponds to our values and mission as a Natural History museum.”
Rebeca Esquivel, Museum Educator at the Redpath, supplemented the permanent exhibits with a self-guided “treasure hunt” tour that brought visitors throughout the Museum, simulating the story of carbon. By following the journey of carbon, the basis for all life on Earth, visitors were directed to exhibits on the Earth’s beginnings and its first life forms, then to world cultures that shape humankind and scores of extinct or living creatures.
“Earth Day was an invitation for the museum’s visitors to explore how all the specimens, objects, artifacts, and the visitors themselves are interconnected parts of life on Earth,” said Esquivel. “The interactive nature of the treasure hunt format encouraged visitors of all ages to look for hidden pieces of knowledge that fueled these feelings of interconnection.”
To conclude the tour, visitors who had brought flower pots and small containers took part in a gardening activity in the Redpath’s Teaching Lab, during which they were given small envelopes containing wildflower seeds to plant. The closing touch encouraged participants to “plant the seeds of a more beautiful future while encouraging the reuse of small containers as pots,” wrote McCutcheon.
Following Nuit Blanche and Paleo Week events held earlier this year, the Earth Day activities embody the Museum’s dedication to hosting interactive and fun events and engaging with the McGill community and beyond. There are several occasions for the University and wider Montreal community to interact throughout the year; those looking to participate in interactive activities are invited to the different 24 heures de science events that will be held by McGill Outreach teams this Saturday, May 6.