As part of ongoing Anthropocene engagement at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, we aim to support transdisciplinary conversations about urgent issues facing our community. Through dialogue we hope to spur creative exploration about the interconnectivity of nature and people across time, and thinking towards a clean and just future.
Toward this goal, we are super excited to host our inspiring colleagues from The Natural History Museum next week, October 23 – 26, in Pittsburgh as part of their event series, Power Beyond Extraction. The series examines power in terms of both energy and the people power needed to bring about the just transition to a clean energy economy. The Natural History Museum and the House of Tears Carvers of the Lummi Nation collaborated with us two years ago in producing a powerful program and exhibition about indigenous leadership in US struggles to protect land and water, entitled, Kwel’ Hoy: We Draw the Line!
Next week’s event series is organized to coincide with the Shale Insight Conference, an annual convening and conversation about the future of energy that is hosted by the petrochemical industry. Power Beyond Extraction invites community leaders, activists, artists, and scholars to contribute to this conversation of regional, international, and inter-generational importance.
At the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, we are co-hosting two events in the series.
First, on Thursday evening, October 24 in the CMOA theater from 6 – 8:30 p.m. join us in a free community conversation. A Buried Conversation is planned to kick-off with a selection of coal mining songs performed by labor leader and professional musician Joe Uehlein. Then Uehlein along with a selection of other coal scholars and activists will join together for a panel discussion about the joint history of coal and the history of labor. Exploring how the long struggle for work with dignity can inform a just transition that supports both clean energy and good jobs.
Second, please join us from 2 – 4 p.m. on Saturday October 26, for another free event and special dialogue held in the CMOA theater. We will be screening Fire Underground, a feature length fantasy animation presenting an alternative history of coal. After the screening, the artist, Nick Crockett will be there to discuss the film in dialogue with CMNH’s Director of Science and Research, Steve Tonsor, and art historian and member of The Natural History Museum, Steve Lyons.
I was especially inspired to share Fire Underground at our museum after Nick told me about his time hanging out in the galleries and the influence that the experience had in spurring his imagination and making this film. You can spot the inspired critters and landscape in the eerily familiar and unfamiliar world Crockett animates to journey through layers of deep time from ancient carboniferous forests to the speculative present.
Nicole Heller is Curator of the Anthropocene for Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Museum employees are encouraged to blog about their unique experiences working at the museum.