- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 27, 2005

CHICAGO — The photo depicts a crowd of new boats pulled up to shore, their brilliant blue and red paint jobs shiny in the sun. But on land, the devastation from last year’s tsunami is still evident — a coastline devoid of trees, a shack in the background that is falling apart.

“It’s in some ways very hopeful, but even a year afterward, it really shows that there’s more to be done,” said Mike Sarna, director of exhibits at the Notebaert Nature Museum.

The photograph is part of a new exhibit at the museum, called “Tsunami: Science and Hope,” that centers on the earthquake-spawned tidal waves on Dec. 26, 2004, that left more than 230,000 people dead or missing in 13 Indian Ocean nations.

The exhibit is small, consisting of 20 photos and several exhibits that examine the scientific underpinnings of this particular tsunami and others in history. A map shows the locations of the few tsunami-warning systems that exist, mostly off the coast of the northwestern United States, and where officials hope to place more than a dozen more.

Despite its limited scope, the exhibit is unique in that it resulted from a relationship the museum has developed with Heifer International, a group that seeks to combat poverty and world hunger by providing families in dozens of countries with animals they can use to support themselves.

After the tsunami, the museum’s employees decided that they wanted to contribute to charitable efforts. But they wanted to ensure that the donation from their museum — small when compared with huge Chicago institutions like the Field Museum of Natural History and Museum of Science and Industry — stretched as far as possible.

One employee was familiar with Little Rock, Ark.-based Heifer, and museum staff liked how its philosophy of sustainability meshed with the Notebaert’s mission to inspire people to learn about and care for nature and the environment, Mr. Sarna said.

The museum did not do any fund raising outside its walls. Instead, its 60 employees, board members and volunteers made a $5,000 donation to Heifer.

For the exhibit, staff at Notebaert, which attracts about 200,000 visitors a year, provided the scientific knowledge. Heifer provided the photos, all taken in the past few weeks in Indonesia’s hard-hit Aceh province.



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