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"A Walk in the Wild: Continuing John Muir's Journey" Opens at the Oakland Museum of California
Thomas Hill. Muir Glacier, Alaska. Oakland Museum of California , Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard R. Hanna.

OAKLAND, CA.- The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) presents A Walk in the Wild: Continuing John Muir's Journey, on view August 6, 2011, through January 22, 2012, in the Museum's Great Hall. John Muir's experience in the Golden State led to his becoming a founding figure of the environmentalist movement. In this provocative new exhibition, OMCA celebrates the legendary naturalist's life, work, and legacy in California and beyond. Told through OMCA's collections of art, history, and natural science, as well as interactive digital technology and extensive loans―Muir's journals, manuscripts, original drawings and plant collections―the exhibition pays tribute to the "Father of the National Parks," whose legacy continues to inspire environmental stewardship in California today.

Through interactive, multisensory displays, A Walk in the Wild invites visitors to explore the vast natural environment of California and experience the sights, sounds, and smells that Muir encountered during his explorations. Through four main themes of wonder, adventure, discovery, and action, the exhibition brings the radical preservationist’s legacy to life, and connects it to contemporary activists of environmental study, conservation, and exploration working today in California. Through video and interactive technology, visitors are able to meet these Modern Day Muirs and learn about their work and motivations.

The featured Modern Day Muirs include: Shelton Johnson, Yosemite National Park ranger; John Wehausen, wildlife biologist; Dune Lankard, Alaskan environmental activist/fisherman; Rick Deutsch, Half Dome hiker/author; Jean Krejca, cave explorer;Greg Stock, Yosemite National Park geologist; Steve Sillett, redwood canopy researcher; Tori Seher, Yosemite National Park bear biologist and Alcatraz bird biologist; and Kemba Shakur, tree planter for Oakland Relief.

“This incredible exhibition explores the abundance of California’s natural treasures through the lens of John Muir—the radical environmentalist who adopted this state as his own,” says OMCA Executive Director Lori Fogarty. “This is a fitting story for OMCA to tell as it utilizes our multidisciplinary collection focus and reinforces our dedication to telling the many stories of California. With its interactive approach, A Walk in the Wild provides an exciting primer to what visitors can expect with the reopening of our transformed Gallery of California Natural Sciences in June 2012.”

Simulation activities featured throughout the exhibition allow visitors to travel alongside Muir during his many explorations. From the ability to enter a giant hollow Sequoia tree in Yosemite, and see and smell the burnt embers of the forest burning around you to testing your skills at glacier and crevasse leaping in Alaska to following Muir’s trek from Yosemite to Mount Whitney on Google Earth to the ability to take a simulated photograph of yourself mountaineering, A Walk in the Wild offers many opportunities to learn about Muir’s legacy and bring out the John Muir in you.

"This exhibition is filled with wonder and discovery," says guest curator Dorris Welch. "We all have many things to learn from John Muir's legacy. To be able to honor and bring John Muir's legacy into a modern-day light is an extremely important thing," Welch says of the OMCA-exclusive show.

The exhibition features striking large-scale photographic murals by Steven Joseph showcasing the natural wonders of Muir’s explorations and dramatic landscape paintings by William Keith and Thomas Hill, allowing visitors to explore the beautiful scenery that inspired John Muir. Through original artifacts on loan from the John Muir Papers, University of the Pacific, and the John Muir National Historic Site, visitors are able to see Muir’s journals and manuscripts where he cites the awe and wonder he experienced alone in nature—from the musical qualities of waterfalls, streams and rivers in Yosemite Valley to the majestic glacially sculpted granite landscapes he explored in the highest of the High Sierra. Visitors can also explore how the minimal gear Muir carried in the mountains compares to the elaborate mountaineering gear of today. The exhibition also features “Nature’s Beloved Son,” a print gallery highlighting Stephen Joseph’s prints of Muir’s original pressed plant collections, displayed with Muir’s original plant collection herbarium sheets.

A Walk in the Wild: Continuing John Muir’s Journey opens at the Oakland Museum of California on Saturday, August 6, 2011, and continues through January 22, 2012. The exhibition is organized by guest curator Dorris Welch, and is made possible by generous support from the Oakland Museum Women’s Board, The Bernard Osher Foundation, the J.M. Long Foundation and the University of the Pacific Library, John Muir Papers, Holt Atherton Collections/Muir-Hanna Trust.

Additional exhibition partners and collaborators include: Bonnie Gisel, Muir scholar and author; Jerry Pentin, videographer with Spring Street Studios; Dr. Bill Swagerty and Shan Sutton, University of the Pacific, Holt Atherton Special Collections, John Muir Papers; Carola DeRooy and Isabel Jenkins Ziegler, John Muir Historic Site National Park Service; and Malcolm Margolin, Heyday Books.

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