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Press Advisory
Contact Josie Patterson
617-253-4422, josiep@mit.edu

 

MIT Museum Announces New Exhibition Featuring
Photography of Mountaineer
David Breashears


Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya

 

April 13: Press Preview with David Breashears - 8.45 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
April 13: Second Friday's - Opening Tours & Program: Rivers of Ice: 5:00 p.m. – 8.00 p.m.
April 17: Visualizing Science: The Changing Arctic Ice: 6:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.
April 21: Rivers of Ice: What’s Your Question? 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. A Cambridge Science Festival program with David Breashears, hosted by Marco Werman, at the Ray and Maria Stata Center. Reception to follow at the MIT Museum.

April 13, 2012, Cambridge, MA - The MIT Museum opens today a new exhibition Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya (April 13, 2012 - March 17, 2013) a collaboration between the MIT Museum, GlacierWorks, and the Asia Society and designed by ThincDesign.

During the past century, many glaciers of the Greater Himalaya have been in retreat. Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya will reveal the dramatic glacial melt through stunning photography taken by mountaineer and filmmaker David Breashears, and include artifacts and displays relating to the local inhabitants of the region. (Press Images - PDF)

Most people have only experienced the distant, dramatic landscapes of the Greater Himalaya through photographs and films, taken of what many believe is not only the most beautiful and unforgiving terrain on Earth, but also, one of the most ecologically sensitive areas of the world. Rivers of Ice draws deeply on David Breashears’ breathtaking photographs, and places them in context with those of earlier mountaineer photographers - Vittorio Sella, Major E.O. Wheeler, and George Mallory among them - who first sought to capture the beauty of the region and gather vital geographic information about these landscapes.

Like his predecessors, Breashears has endured hardships, and pushed available technologies to record images of the region. Over the course of his thirty-two year mountain climbing career, including forty-five expeditions to the Himalaya, Breashears has come to know the region as few other contemporary photographers have. "I want to share my knowledge," says Breashears, who views the Rivers of Ice exhibition as an opportunity to trigger public dialogue as scientists and policymakers work to better understand the glaciers’ potential impact on the fresh water supply in Asia, and on global environmental issues in general.

The exhibition at the MIT Museum, a related symposium being organized by the Cambridge Science Festival, and other talks and lectures throughout 2012, will provide insight to some of the most groundbreaking environmental research currently taking place, and offer the general public the opportunity to engage with scientists and researchers. New tools and techniques are being developed to answer extremely complex and difficult questions about water supply, hydrology, and the scientific data gathering process, all of which contribute to a better understanding of what exactly is happening to the glaciers of the Greater Himalaya.

At the heart of Rivers of Ice are contemporary, state-of-the-art digital photographs taken by Breashears from the same vantage points as the archival photos taken a century ago. Presented at the MIT Museum in large scale format, and viewed alongside the original images, some taken from 19th-century glass-plate negatives, these high-resolution images make plain the changes that have occurred in the intervening decades.

MIT Museum director John Durant views the exhibition as "connecting image-makers, scientists and the public, to debate the messages – about climate, about environment, about water. What can we learn from these images? What do we not know? Can the images themselves guide future research?"

Rivers of Ice, once viewed, cannot be forgotten. By experiencing the photography 'in the round' and at large scale, by viewing artifacts from expeditions past and present, and by learning about the people who call the Himalaya home, MIT Museum visitors will gain a deeper understanding of the grand beauty of these mountains, as well as their significance to the water cycle that sustains lives.

Formed by the collision of continents, the massive Himalayan mountain range is of profound historic, cultural, and scientific significance. The water from the glacial ice melt contributes to watersheds that serve the drinking, agriculture and business needs of more than 1 billion people throughout Asia. As the snow cover melts and the glaciers of the Greater Himalaya retract and change, the need for greater and more detailed understanding of their importance to human and ecological systems increases.

For Breashears, the anticipated disruption from these changes on "the roof of the world" is startling. Breashears, who has reached the summit of Mt. Everest five times, also considers himself a "citizen scientist," - one who contributes direct evidence to a scientific community hungry for field observations that are so hard to come by in the Himalaya. His unique perspective, and profound knowledge of the area - the sights, the sounds, the smells - add a deeply-felt human experience of the changing geography to a growing body of scientific data.

By bringing together the work of several generations of explorers, Rivers of Ice sets the stage for an extended dialogue about the interconnected science that is being used to direct policies and government action on climate change. Issues such as water loss in the U.S. and Europe, climate science, hydrology, and glacier melt measurements are some of the topics that will be covered in the related suite of programs that promise to challenge and enlighten, and perhaps even inspire the adventurers, explorers, and scientists, and 'citizen scientists' of the future.

Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya, which opens April 13, 2012 in the Thomas Peterson ’57 Gallery at the MIT Museum, is a collaboration between the MIT Museum, GlacierWorks, and the Asia Society, and has been designed by ThincDesign. This exhibition has been funded in part by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, GlacierWorks, The Asia Society, The MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, Shell, The Farvue Foundation, and the Council for the Arts at MIT.

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More information about:

MIT Museum
The MIT Museum's mission is to engage the wider community with MIT's science, technology and other areas of scholarship in ways that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century. With regularly changing exhibitions, a variety of public programs and family festivals, the MIT Museum attracts over 110,000 visitors to its location on the north edge of the MIT campus.

GlacierWorks
Filmmaker, explorer, and mountaineer David Breashears is the Executive Director and founder of GlacierWorks, a non-profit organization that utilizes art, science and adventure to foster a dialogue between policy makers, scientists and the public to encourage a better understanding of the mechanisms and consequences of climate change. Since 2007, GlacierWorks has undertaken ten expeditions to the glaciers of the Greater Himalayan region, retracing the steps of pioneering mountain photographers to capture new images that precisely match the early photographic records.

Thinc Design
Using new and varied modes of engagement and interaction, the exhibition design firm Thinc Design provides visitors with new ways of seeing the world around them. Based in New York City, Thinc was founded by Tom Hennes in 1992. The firm works throughout the world, and has recently completed projects for the Steinhart Aquarium at the California Academy of Sciences; The Freedom Park in South Africa; and the American Folk Art Museum. Thinc is also currently developing the exhibitions for the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center and Discovery Park of America.

Funders and Partners

Funding for the exhibition was provided by: the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, GlacierWorks, The Asia Society, The MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, Shell, The Farvue Foundation, and the Council for the Arts at MIT.

Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya was developed in collaboration with The Asia Society.

MIT/MIT Museum benefits from the support of the the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. This document was produced with the financial assistance of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of MIT/MIT Museum and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the Foundation.

MIT advisors to the exhibition: Patrick Heimbach, Henry D. Jacoby, Ronald G. Prinn, Susan Solomon, James Wescoat

 

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