- Associated Press - Saturday, February 25, 2017

SYCAMORE, Ill. (AP) - From fact bubbles on the walls to mounted trout and a blue whale vertebra, the newest exhibit at the Midwest Museum of Natural History has a story to tell, and it’s all about water.

Visitors who venture into Water World can view real animal specimens from different aquatic environments and search on a scavenger hunt for facts about the resource, ways living beings depend on it and how it can be conserved for future generations.

This temporary exhibit will be on display until May 5 in the Rotary Gallery at the museum in downtown Sycamore.

Collections of mounted animals from North America, Africa and the Ice Age can be seen year-round in the museum, along with live animals, such as snakes, turtles and lizards.

Jessica Cunny, exhibit and collections curator, said she began planning and researching for the Water World exhibit in November before selecting specimens from the museum’s collection.



“For this exhibit, it started with me wanting to showcase our freshwater fish; we do have a lot of them that are down there that no one ever sees,” she said. “But then it evolved into the idea of, ‘What does water do for us as humans?’”

In addition to the freshwater and saltwater sections explaining how fish live in each environment, the exhibit also features a human section with information on how people use water to live.

“A lot of kids probably don’t know that our bodies are made up of 60 percent water,” Cunny said.

Children going through the exhibit can pick up clipboards and complete a scavenger hunt by finding water-related facts posted around the room. In the process, they will learn about the water cycle, reservoirs and dams, the purification of drinking water, and how to reduce their own water footprints, Cunny said.

“I like (the scavenger hunt) as an interactive (project) because it makes kids want to read a little bit more and actually look for stuff versus just flying through,” she said.

Cunny said she tries to come up with exhibits that are relevant to DeKalb County and the Midwest and that also present something new people might not know about.

She said she is from DeKalb, but for nine years she lived in California, where people talk about water differently.

“You don’t think about droughts necessarily the same way you would think about a drought when you’re living in one,” Cunny said. “So, especially in the conservation section, I really wanted people to know that it’s not never-ending. Sure, it comes out of your tap whenever you turn it on, but how is that affecting the rest of the planet?”

Cunny said she hopes to add more interactive elements to the exhibit, such as a magnetic display of the water cycle.

“It’s more educational than it is playful, and I will be adding in a couple of extra things,” she said. “Exhibits are always an ongoing process.”

She said another information-heavy exhibit was AgriCULTURE, the museum’s 2015 summer/fall exhibit that earned an award of merit from the Illinois Association of Museums. The exhibit focused on the agricultural roots of the DeKalb community.

“I grew up here in DeKalb, so it was fun for me to learn more about agriculture and see that this is kind of how our area started, but not everyone necessarily knows about it,” Cunny said.

The museum typically has two temporary exhibits a year, but this year three are planned to make the rotation. An insect exhibit is set to take over in June with an Octoberfest/beer exhibit to run late summer through fall, Cunny said.

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Source: The (DeKalb) Daily Chronicle, https://bit.ly/2kyfg9J

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Information from: The Daily Chronicle, https://www.daily-chronicle.com

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