As Carl Sagan famously said, “Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.”
No matter what home looks like for you, in Chicago or elsewhere, the reality of the situation is that for all of us, home is Earth. This is our house. What we do with it matters.
It’s this point that the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum hopes to drive home with its newest exhibit, Our House: Rethinking Home in a Changing Climate. In its 160th year, the museum is taking the time out to do what it does best: educate. “The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum encourages factual, thoughtful dialogue about climate change,” said Deborah Lahey, President and CEO. “We know climate change can be a challenging concept, and this exhibit provides the opportunity to help families talk about it in relation to their lives and their community. Our House features interactive experiences that show how resilient and creative people can be when managing change. It will empower guests to see how simple actions will help reduce climate change.”
One of our favorite things about Our House is how broad an audience it reaches. Whether you’re a kid or an adult, live in the city or the country, own or rent, this exhibit has something to teach you, and a way that you can get involved.
Visitors “commute” into the exhibit, which has several separate room-like modules, each with their own theme, from extreme weather and changing tides to backyard pests and supporting predators. They can then learn about the changes that can be made to homes to help them conserve energy and defend against harsh winters or summers. Children and adults alike will find plenty of models to examine, touch screen challenges and interactive experiences that detail extreme weather and show how we know climate change exists, and even see how different cities handle their own climates, from Miami to Chicago.
And, it turns out, Chicago cares. During our visit to the museum, we learned that even as laws are being repealed and agencies dismantled, people are banding together. During a recent volunteer drive at the Notebaert, museum staff reported an increase of several thousand people signing up to participate in a real way to volunteer and help make our environment a cleaner, safer, better place.
At a time when even basic science is being scrutinized, the Notebaert delivers an informative, expansive, fun exhibit that truly reaches out to all ages. It encourages action and looks both to the past for inspiration in coping with the changes we see today and to the future, to talk to the children who will one day inherit “our house.”
Our House at the Notebaert Nature Museum opened March 25th, and will run through September, after which it will travel to various other institutions throughout the US. Entry to the exhibit is included with regular admission. Click here for more information.