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Press Release

For Immediate Release

New Outdoor Special Exhibition Explores Importance of Habitats and Their Fragility through Artistic Sculptures
“Habitat” takes guests on a voyage through several environments and displays the role they play in our lives, and what we can do to preserve these domains.

Atlanta, April 8, 2021 -- Explore the uniqueness and importance of the natural environment in Fernbank’s new outdoor special exhibition, “Habitat,” featuring giant sculptures of insects, animals, nests and flowers nestled among the real plants and animals that call WildWoods home. Thematic sections explore the central idea “protecting habitats protects life” through the lens of the environment where it is displayed.

The elevated walkway into WildWoods leads guests through a tour of the natural world. Set against the backdrop of a thriving forest found just minutes from the heart of downtown Atlanta, this new exhibit invites guests to travel “through” habitats and biomes found around the globe and explore the importance of preserving these natural communities through large-scale sculptures, including a giant grasshopper, butterfly, praying mantis and dragonfly, as well as nests, flowers, honeycomb and more, commissioned by Fernbank in partnership with local artists.

 Habitats provide homes for all living things, from the tiniest ant to the tallest tree. Plants, animals and other organisms have adapted to each other and their habitats over time, creating a delicate ecological balance. This balance faces many threats, including pollution, deforestation and climate change, but humans can protect habitats for the future by learning to be better stewards of the environment.

“When most people hear the word habitat, they think of ‘nests’, ‘dens’ or ‘burrows,’ but – as this exhibit shows us – habitats are everywhere,” said Sarah Arnold, Fernbank’s Director of Education. “Everything we do impacts a habitat. Choices as small as choosing what plants to put in our yard can create an impact, and this exhibit helps us understand how to make beneficial choices.”

“Habitat” invites visitors to learn more about topics related to habitats, their importance to life and what people can do to help preserve them. In total, there are nine thematic sections that make-up the exhibition, leading guests through Fernbank’s outdoor areas and on a unique nature expedition. Explore the Sign of the Dragonfly through stunning sculptures and informative displays, discover what organisms call fallen trees and stumps home in Dead Wood is Life and uncover the importance of flight among flora and fauna in an environment through Habitat of Flight.

“My favorite part of this exhibit is the Sign of the Dragonfly section,” Arnold said.  “Not only are the dragonfly sculptures beautiful, but they also help highlight an important ecological role -- indicator species -- which can help us determine how healthy a habitat is. It’s exciting to see this highlighted because it is an example of Fernbank’s own research of species and stream health in Fernbank Forest.”


Other “Habitat” highlights include: 

    • As you enter WildWoods discover larger-than-life Nests, displaying massive eagle’s and oriole’s nests recreations, as well as nests from other birds, including an owl hole and more. Recreated by local Atlanta artist Laura Lewis.
    • Wind through Nature Gallery and discover the Bug B&B, housing multiple larger-than-life insect sculptures such as a praying mantis, grasshopper and a caterpillar with chrysalis. Other smaller-scale sculptures include two bee sculptures and a butterfly-with-flower sculpture; created by Allen Peterson and Laura Lewis.
    • As you make your way to Nature Stories, explore Monarch and Meadows featuring magnificent monarch butterfly sculptures and two butterfly photo-ops with Georgia’s state butterfly, the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and a monarch butterfly.
    • Life in the Balance, Biomes explores the plants, animals and other organisms that call four distinct biomes home: Rainforest, Desert, Tundra and Aquatic. Found near Fernbank’s Kendeda Pavilion, this section features intricate, delicately painted cut-outs of these biomes and the organisms that call them home.

Developed by Smithsonian Gardens and made available by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), “Habitat” will be on display along ADA-accessible paths in WildWoods from  Saturday, April 17 through Sunday, August 29, 2021.

The exhibit is included with general admission and is free for Fernbank members. Timed, online tickets are required in advance at FernbankMuseum.org at $20 for adults, $19 for seniors and $18 for children*.  To purchase tickets or view pre-visit information, frequently asked questions, safety protocols and more, visit FernbankMuseum.org

Special Programming
Fernbank is hosting Born to be Wild on Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. Born to be Wild invites guests to celebrate Earth Day with outdoor adventures, live-animal encounters, nature-themed movies, tree-climbing demos, an outdoor scavenger hunt and more.

Fernbank is once again taking the lead for City Nature Challenge in Atlanta. City Nature Challenge is a free, yearly international event motivating people to step into the outdoors and make observations of nature. Participants simply use the iNaturalist app to take photos of plants, animals, trees, fungi and more that they come across. This year’s event runs from Saturday, April 30 through Monday, May 2. Come out and explore WildWoods and Fernbank Forest to see what organisms you can find in this unique habitat. Just recently, Fernbank’s resident ecologist, Eli Dickerson, found a locally rare species of salamander as well as a massive 161-foot tree, so you never know what you might discover.

*Tickets not purchased online are $19.95-$21.95 and may not be available due to safety precautions that limit capacity.
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Media Inquiries:
Tyler Thornton, Public Relations Specialist
Tyler.Thornton@FernbankMuseum.org
404.929.6381

About Fernbank
Fernbank, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, is one of the most popular and iconic cultural destinations in Atlanta. A collection of experiences rooted in science, nature and human culture, the attraction includes a natural history museum, giant screen 3D theater (currently showing all movies in 2D format) and 75 acres of nature adventures that include the largest urban old-growth Piedmont forest in the United States. Visit fernbankmuseum.org for more information and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

About Smithsonian Gardens
Since its inception in 1972, Smithsonian Gardens has extended the Smithsonian’s museum experience in a public garden setting, inspiring visitors with exceptional displays and educating them about horticulture, plants, the natural and build environments and artistic design. Its research and educational programs promote the ongoing development of collections of living plants, garden documentation and horticultural artifacts. Smithsonian Gardens is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. For more information, visit the Smithsonian Gardens website.

About the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES)
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.  For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit sites.si.edu.