Large-scale photographs of North Cascades scenic wonders are part of “Wild Nearby.” But the show encompasses much more than photography. It’s a child-friendly look at the 28,000-square-mile mountainous ecosystem that straddles the U.S.-Canadian border.
Seven large-scale photographs of North Cascades scenic wonders are part of the Burke Museum’s special exhibit, “Wild Nearby.” But the show encompasses much more than photography.
It’s a child-friendly look at the 28,000-square-mile mountainous ecosystem that straddles the U.S.-Canadian border. It is home to 4,000 insect species, 1,500 plant species (excluding mosses) and more than 200 bird species, 75 mammal species and 20 amphibian and reptile species. There are 742 glaciers within its boundaries, along with two volcanoes: Mount Baker and Glacier Peak.
The North Cascades is the place where the southern tip of Arctic-cool habitat meets the northernmost limits of a warmer temperate zone. It’s also a place where former seabeds have been pushed by tectonic forces thousands of feet into the air.
10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily through April 9, Burke Museum, University of Washington, Seattle; $7.50-$10 (206-616-3962 or burkemuseum.org).
“This rugged region,” we learn, “was formed by a mashing of bits of old continents, deep ocean floor and sediments, ancient volcanic rocks and sub-crustal mantle all mixed together. Its sharp, challenging-to-traverse peaks were carved by erosion from wind, water and ice.”
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Steph Abegg’s sublime photograph of the Picket Range in North Cascades National Park makes clear just how “challenging-to-traverse” those peaks can be. Gorgeous images by Thomas Bancroft and Bart Smith underscore the point.
Despite its rough topography, the region has been home to native peoples for at least 13,000 years, and archaeological finds from their settlements are a key part of the show.
As for wildlife, the exhibit keeps things streamlined by focusing on four indicator species: the wolverine, the coastal tailed frog, the hairy woodpecker and clubmoss mountain heather. Short videos of a wolverine being trapped and released and a coastal tailed frog in action are particularly eye-grabbing.
The frog is a true oddity. On land, when it jumps, it falls flat on its belly rather than landing on its legs. In rushing mountain streams, it moves anarchically. No symmetrical frog kick here. Instead, it bounces around streambeds using a chaotic all-limbs-in-every-direction technique.
Rounding out the exhibit is Tori Karpenko’s “The Lookout,” a life-size replica of a North Cascades fire lookout, installed with a photographic panorama of snow-clad peaks to give you a sense of being in situ. The whole immersive purpose of “Wild Nearby” is to encourage visitors to become “Citizen Scientists.”