The Junior Council of The American Museum of Natural History hosted a private viewing of the new special exhibition Nature’s Fury: The Science of Natural Disaster on Wednesday, December 3, 2014. The evening kicked off with remarks by Curator Edmond Mathez, and a cocktail reception followed in the Gottesman Hall of Planet Earth.
Curator Edmond Mathez discussed risk and displayed graphs to demonstrate how science enables us to assess whether events are rare or likely. It called to question whether we can ever truly be prepared for Mother Nature’s sometimes unpredictable and also unforgiving fury. History is only helpful as means of predicting until we are thrown a curve ball of unprecedented natural disaster such as the tsunami and earthquake in 2004. It was the first of its kind in the Indian Ocean, so there were no predictions. Therefore, we must ask ourselves: Do I act based on what I know, or how I feel? Merely living on this dynamic planet will always entail risk.
From earthquakes and volcanoes to tornadoes and hurricanes, nature’s forces shape our world and often endanger people. Nature’s Fury tells the stories of how individuals and communities cope and adapt in the aftermath of these events—and how scientists are helping to reduce the risks, to plan responses, and to prepare for future events. Interactive stations at the exhibit help visitors discover the processes behind each of these natural phenomena with touchable specimens, videos and animations, models, and simulations. Visitors are also able to generate a virtual volcano, stand in the eye of a roaring tornado, and experience the sounds of earthquakes. They may even create an “earthquake” by jumping next to a seismometer. One of the most relevant and interesting parts of the exhibit is watching the power of Hurricane Sandy via an interactive map of New York City. Through the map, visitors can learn how scientists are helping to make better predictions, plan responses, and prepare for future events. Indeed, these natural events remind us that we are small and vulnerable to the power of nature. The exhibit will last until August 9th, 2015.
The American Museum of Natural History’s Junior Council is one of New York City’s most stimulating membership groups for young philanthropists. Founded in 1994, the Junior Council supports the Museum’s mission to discover, interpret, and disseminate—through scientific research and education—knowledge about human cultures, the natural world, and the universe. Each year, Junior Council members participate in special events that offer them an intimate view inside the Museum’s collections, activities, and exhibitions. Junior Council members go behind the scenes at one of the world’s preeminent museums, meet some of the nation’s most distinguished and engaging scientists, and preview the latest exhibitions.