‘Our Places’ Exhibit at Smithsonian Natural History Museum


CONTACT: Zerline Hughes Spruill
JUNE 23, 2022 zerline@fokag.org

New Smithsonian Exhibition Highlighting the Connection Between People and Nature Features Ward 7 National Park and Nonprofit

Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and Two Ward 7 Residents Spotlighted in Natural History Museum’s ‘Our Places’ Exhibition

WASHINGTON, D.C – The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will open “Our Places: Connecting People and Nature” Friday, July 1, a new exhibition exploring how peoples’ experiences with nature inspire them to connect, care and act, featuring local nonprofit Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and two Ward 7 residents. “Our Places” offers visitors a chance to meet dedicated scientists and community members working to protect dynamic environments around the globe, from tropical rainforests and coastal mangroves to local neighborhood greenspaces spread across Washington, D.C. The participatory displays invite visitors to incorporate places and experiences from their own lives into the exhibition’s larger story.

“Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens couldn’t be happier to help showcase our nation’s only national park devoted to aquatic plant life at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and the work that we do to help maintain it, and create connections with our neighboring Ward 7 community members alongside the National Park Service” said Tina O’Connell, Executive Director of Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.

“Ward 7 native, greenspace advocate and one of our board members, Dennis Chestnut, in addition to Ward 7 resident and our Community Engagement Manager Zerline Hughes Spruill, are both featured in the “Our Places” exhibition shining a light on a very special community that we are proud to serve,” continued O’Connell. “We are also excited to bring Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens to the Smithsonian in the fall and winter by offering activities and discussions for visitors in hopes to attract more D.C. residents and visitors to experience the gardens and the various events we offer throughout the year.”

For 15 years, Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens has been the official nonprofit partner working with National Capital Area – East to steward and raise funds for infrastructure and activities for the National Park Service’s Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Over the years, it has added new signage, adirondack chairs, free wellness programming, and it is currently working on pet waste stations, answering the needs of the neighbors from Kenilworth, Eastland Gardens and Mayfair who use the park for recreation and solace.

“‘Our Places’ offers visitors a hands-on opportunity to be inspired by the nature all around us, including the green spaces in the museum’s own neighborhood,” said Kirk Johnson, the Sant Director of the National Museum of Natural History.

“Our Places” will highlight plant species, in addition to efforts to incorporate accessible, equitable green spaces in urban communities, reinvigorate barren soil through Indigenous community-led restorative agricultural practices and sustainably harvest seafood through BIPOC-owned aquaculture programs in the Chesapeake Bay. Personal stories from scientists and local community leaders bring these projects to life and highlight why natural environments are worth protecting. Visitors will not only learn about fieldwork in locales like India and Peru, but also get an in-depth look at vital places closer to the Washington area such as the city’s Rock Creek Park and Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Many of these local spaces, including Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and Anacostia Park, provide natural oases to communities often overlooked by conservation efforts.

“Our Places” presents visitors with a unique experience to learn all about these places through a variety of engaging activities. They will have the opportunity to identify local birds and other animals through nature sounds, design more inclusive parks that welcome entire communities and even leave notes and drawings behind to complement the displays themselves. By sharing their own personal experiences in nature, visitors will ensure this dynamic exhibition continues to evolve.

The museum is open daily, except Dec. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit the museum on its website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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