An art museum typically does not spend a great deal of time disseminating information about environmental issues, such as the plight of delicate ecosystems. But with the BRMA's current - and soon-to-close - exhibition Clyde Butcher: Wilderness Visions, the Museum has recently had cause to explore issues relevant to Florida's beautiful, enigmatic and fragile Everglades.
Mr. Butcher talks to seminar attendees
On Oct. 3, Mr. Butcher - a noted Florida wildlife photographer well-known for his undying passion for Everglades preservation - visited the Museum to lead a two-hour seminar/workshop/lecture about his black-and-white photography techniques and the ways in which his style has adapted to changing technology. Mr. Butcher, who spends a great deal of time "on the ground" in the Everglades, capturing images of the flora and fauna, also shared anecdotes about his time in the field.
The seminar (to which Members received a discounted entry) was open to the public, and enjoyed a sell-out crowd. After the event, attendees had the chance to mingle with Mr. Butcher and participate in a book-signing.
Everglades Lecture at Museum
As a compliment to the Clyde Butcher exhibition - which prominently features several large-scale images of the Everglades - the Museum's Education Department arranged for a free Everglades Lecture with local wetlands expert, Eric Gehring. The open event was held Oct. 28 at the BRMA. Museum Curator of Education Claire Clum emphasized the Museum's commitment to honor Mr. Butcher's mission to preserve "Florida's treasure."
Eric Gehring, the Education Director at the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation, used a PowerPoint presentation and interactive audience exercises to highlight the Everglades size, scope, history and current efforts to restore and preserve the wetlands. Listed below are a few of the stand-out points that I picked up from Mr. Gehring's presentation:
- The Everglades can be found in Palm Beach County (home to the Museum). You don't need to drive south or west to find them.
- There are some plants and animals indigenous to the Everglades that can't be found elsewhere in the world.
- In 1882, humans began making significant changes to the way the water flowed, creating an intricate canal system. The wetlands originally covered 18,000 square miles; today's coverage is significantly lower.
- Florida rests atop limestone, which is essentially composed of fossilized sea creatures.
- A vast majority of Floridians get their drinking water from aquifers located in the limestone.
Mr. Gehring's primary message was the value in recognizing the vital functions of the Everglades and the continued need to protect and maintain this vulnerable asset.
As a final note: Clyde Butcher: Wilderness Visions closes this Sunday, November 8, 2009.