THE ANTHROPOCENE AT CARNEGIE MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
The Anthropocene is a term for the current epoch that describes a turning point in Earth history at which human activities for the first time are making a profound, and global, impact on the functioning of the planetary systems: biotic, oceanic, atmospheric, and geologic. Impacts that will be present in the geological record millions of years from now, and today represent a crisis of sustainability and what many are calling a planetary emergency. While geologists are still debating if and when the Anthropocene will be included in the Geological Time Scale, the museum is embracing the term as a tool for exploring and appreciating the interconnectivity and interdependence of humans within nature and forging pathways for resilience.
The section of the Anthropocene Studies at the museum works symbiotically with others, collaborating with multiple museum sections and with our communities to interpret the story of this epoch, investigating both the positive and negative ways that people interact within ecosystems, observing how organisms are changing and adapting, and thinking together what this may mean for the future of life. The section produces original scientific, educational and ecological humanities research, Anthropocene collections, and innovative exhibition and educational engagements synthesizing science, art, and humanities.
The Anthropocene Living Room
When visiting the museum, we hope that visitors will take the time to relax and learn about this epoch in our Anthropocene Living Room on the third floor Jurassic Overlook. It’s a space meant for reflection and discussion of the Anthropocene and how it is related to all of the exhibits within the museum.
Meet the Researchers
NICOLE HELLER, Ph.D.
BONNIE McGILL, Ph.D.
Science Communication Fellow, Climate Rural Systems Partnership
Asia Ward, M.F.A.
Science Communication Fellow,
Project Manager Generation 2
Museum Anthropocene Initiatives
Climate and Rural Partnerships (CRSP)
The National Science Foundation has awarded Carnegie Museum of Natural History a $1,254,205 grant to develop the Climate and Rural Systems Partnership (CRSP), a learning network that connects and empowers Western Pennsylvania educators, scientists, and community leaders to address climate change issues with rural audiences. The award, which funds the project for four years, recognizes the museum’s commitment to engaging and studying the Anthropocene, the current epoch in which human activity profoundly influences planetary systems.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History will partner with the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE) and the Mercer County Conservation District to create hubs at Munnell Run Farm in Mercer County and Powdermill Nature Reserve, the museum’s own environmental research center, in Westmoreland County. The hubs will coordinate professional development workshops, collaborative design sessions, and community gatherings for diverse groups of local stakeholders. Participants will examine and adapt existing environmental research data, biological collections, and climate change educational tools into salient, usable resources for engagement and learning.
BirdSafe Pittsburgh is a partnership between Carnegie Museum of Natural History and seven other local conservation organizations working to research and reduce bird-glass collisions in the city. As many as a billion birds die annually from collisions with glass windows in the United States.
Products for Birdsafe Pittsburgh are tested at our research facility, Powdermill Nature Reserve in Rector, Pennsylvania.
Climate and Urban Systems Partnerships (CUSP)
Climate and Urban Systems Partnership, or CUSP, is a national project, funded by the National Science Foundation and coordinated locally by Carnegie Museum of Natural History, that aims at changing climate conversations in urban settings. One of CUSP’s major goals is to tackle the overwhelming and somewhat scary topic of climate change and turning it into a digestible conversation for education.
We Are Nature: Living in the Anthropocene
We Are Nature: Living in the Anthropocene was the first exhibition in the nation to focus on the Anthropocene as a concept and it was built entirely within Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
Research conducted by our museum scientists and specimens from our own hidden collections were featured in this interactive exhibition, which allowed visitors to understand the Anthropocene on their own terms, and ended by connecting visitors to activities that are already happening locally, pluging them into a bigger network of people who are collectively making an impact.
2017 ICOM NATHIST Conference: Museums in the Age of Humanity
The 2017 ICOM NATHIST Conference hosted at Carnegie Museum of Natural History focused on the topic of the Anthropocene, specifically Natural History Museums in the Age of Humanity. This international conference sparked innovative discussion about emerging ideas among museum professionals about the future of natural history museums.
Kwel’Hoy We Draw the Line
Carnegie Museum of Natural History hosted the traveling exhibition Kwel’ Hoy: We Draw the Line!, which explores the struggle of Indigenous leadership to protect water, land, and our collective future.
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