Exhibit review | Abbot Conservation Hall: “Restoring Earth” at the Field Museum

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  • A greater dwarf cloud rat (Carpomys melanurus) from the Philippine Islands

    Photo: Lawrence Heaney

  • Sunrise, Cordillera Azul National Park, Peru

    Photo: Álvaro del Campo

  • Rio Cofanes, Ecuador

    Photo: Álvaro del Campo

  • Ornithologists bird-watching during a Field Museum–led, “rapid inventory” trip to Peru

    Photo: Álvaro del Campo

  • Corine Vriesendorp, Field Museum botanist, in Peru

    Photo: Álvaro del Campo

  • Herpetologist (amphibian zoologist) Pablo Vanegas in Peru

    Photo: Álvaro del Campo

  • The canopy of the Amazon rainforest

    Photo: Álvaro del Campo

  • A common green birdwing butterfly (Troides helena)

    Photo: John Weinstein

  • A jewel beetle (Sternocera ruficornis)

    Photo: John Weinstein

  • Volunteers prepare plants for transfer to the American Indian Center’s garden on Chicago’s North Side

    Photo: Karen Bean

  • Restoration experts set a controlled fire at Gensburg-Markham Prairie, south of Chicago, to restore native species

    Photo: Emily Ward

  • Common green birdwing butterfly (Troides helena), detail

    Photo: John Weinstein

  • Common green birdwing butterfly (Troides helena), detail

    Photo: John Weinstein

  • A shining leaf chafer beetle (Chrysophora chrysocholra)

    Photo: John Weinstein

  • Atlantic sundial (Architectonica nobilis)

    Photo: John Weinstein

  • Common janthina (Janthina janthina)

    Photo: John Weinstein

  • Coral reef, Papua New Guinea

    Photo: Joshua Drew

  • Regal fritellary butterfly (Speyeria idalia), native to the Chicago area

    Photo: John Weinstein

  • Birds, identified and tagged, who died due to collisions with Chicago buildings. The Field Museum is researching ways to reduce their number.

    Photo: John Weinstein

  • The peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), which has seen a dramatic recovery

    Photo: John Weinstein

A greater dwarf cloud rat (Carpomys melanurus) from the Philippine Islands

Photo: Lawrence Heaney

Fifteen years ago, technology in museum exhibitions meant video monitors and big, red PUSH ME buttons.


Nowadays, technology is less hands-on than it is hands-free, more Steve Jobs than Indiana Jones. The Field Museum has taken advantage of that wonder in its newest permanent exhibit, which opens today. Abbot Hall of Conservation Restoring Earth, a look into conservation science via grand, interactive visuals and digital workstations, aims to promote the sustainability efforts of people from around the globe, as well as what’s happening right here in Chicago.


The exhibit’s creators did incorporate traditional displays such as still photography and video. But it’s the more advanced digital technologies that will generate conservation interest among both kids and adults.


“We provide an experience that goes beyond just information,” Alvaro Amat, the Field’s design director, said in a statement announcing Restoring Earth. “We want to effect attitude change—to make people care about nature instead of just learning about it. We’re trying to inspire.”


In honor of the opening, the museum welcomed yesterday its first official visitors for a special preview: fourth-graders from the Tarkington School of Excellence, Chicago’s first LEED-certified school. All seemed eager to test out the treasure trove of digital tools and information devices, including a number of touchscreen displays and high-resolution microscopes. One of the most popular kiosks involved a giant screen and motion-capture device.


“I saw it from outside before we came in,” said Tarkington student Jose Cuevas. “It was awesome, like a giant Wii or Xbox or something.” Teacher Laura Bryll shared in Cuevas’s excitement. “I think it’s fantastic,” she said. “I love that they’ve incorporated digital technology into the exhibit. The kids can really grasp and digest everything they’re learning.” Asked if she would recommend the exhibit to others, Bryll didn’t hesitate to give her answer. “Hands down, yes.”




Abbot Hall of Conservation Restoring Earth is free with admission to the Field Museum ($29, students and seniors $24, ages 3–11 $20) and open daily from 9am–5pm.



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