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The Expedition Starts at the Springfield Museums; New Exhibit Explores Climate Change

SPRINGFIELD, MA—The Springfield Museums presents Under the Arctic: Digging into Permafrost at the Springfield Science Museum January 22-May 1, 2022. This hands-on, multi-sensory exhibit seeks to educate visitors about Arctic ecology, permafrost, the effects of climate change, and what we can each do to help. Under the Arctic: Digging into Permafrost addresses the subject of climate change as viewed through thelens of a thawing Arctic using exciting interactive features such as an Alaskan permafrost tunnel replica, fossil research stations and interactive games.


“The exhibit, a collaborative effort between the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and theGeophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), is a great fit for our ongoing explorations of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning,” said Mike Kerr, Director of the Springfield Science Museum. “The exhibit ‘transports’ visitors to the Arctic using multi-sensory exhibit,” he said.  Sights and even smells of the nation’s only permafrost research tunnel are replicated in the exhibit. Visitors step into the boots of climate science researchers to explore real Ice Age fossils, ancient ice cores,and engineering challenges posed by thawing permafrost.


“Climate change can be hard to wrap your head around. For a lot of people who don’t experience its effects, it feels abstract or distant—like something in the future,” said Allyson Woodard, an exhibit developer with OMSI. “This exhibit is an opportunity to make the impacts of climate change tangible—you can see it,touch it, and even smell it.”


Permafrost is soil that has been frozen for at least two years. This exhibit strives to educate visitors aboutpermafrost’s fascinating characteristics and its greater implications.


“We’ve thought a lot about the emotional journey in this exhibit. We know that climate change can be scary or confusing, so we’ve taken into consideration how to guide people to a place of hope,” said Nancy Stueber, president and CEO of OMSI. “I hope that in the end, people come away with a sense ofempowerment and self-advocacy—the idea that I may not be able to change the world necessarily, butthere are small things I can to do to contribute to the greater good.”


In order to create a fully immersive environment, OMSI contracted expert exhibit sculptor Jonquil LeMaster to construct the 30-foot-long replica of an Alaskan permafrost research tunnel. LeMaster, whose extensive credits include habitats for the San Diego Zoo and installations for the Sacramento Airport,believes that the tunnel will heighten the visitor experience.


“People are the most moved when something in their world moves them,” said LeMaster. “Hopefully this exhibit is powerful enough, beautiful enough, interesting enough, that anyone would look at it and be movedsomehow. Is that possible? Aren’t we moved by the world around us? I know I certainly am.”


Exhibit Opening Celebration: Under the Arctic


On Saturday, January 22, from 10 am to 5 pm, the Museums present a Family Fun program to celebrate the opening of Under the Arctic. Programing is free with Museums admission.


Featured Activities


Under the Microscope, 11 am-3 pm
As permafrost melts it releases millions of new microbes that have been trapped for many thousands of years, and never seen by modern humans! Before you visit the permafrost, learn how to collect microbes and create your own slide to view under a microscope. (Discovery Lab, Lower Level, Springfield Science Museum)


A Frozen Scavenger Hunt, 11 am-3 pm
Investigate our two art museums to uncover our cold weather collections item. Take your completed scavenger hunt to the Art Discovery Center to claim a free Frozen book (while supplies last). (D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts and GWV Smith Art Museum)


Permafrost Tunnel Tour, 11 am-3 pm
Take a tour through our special exhibit to gain a deeper understanding of the microbes and fossils that exist in the permafrost. Tours begin on the hour. (Changing Exhibit Gallery, Second Floor, Springfield Science Museum)


Yupik Headbands, 12-4 pm
The Yupik people are indigenous to southwestern Alaska and live in or near areas of the permafrost. Headbands are part of the ceremonial headdress worn by Yupik men and women. Learn about the designing process of the patterns of their headbands by making your own. (Art Discovery Center, Second Floor, GWV Smith Art Museum), One Admission/Five Museums,

including the one and only Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum

Parking is always FREE


About University of Fairbanks Geophysical Institute


The Geophysical Institute is part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, America’s Arctic research university. Scientists at theGeophysical Institute study geophysical processes in action from the center of the Earth to the surface of the sun and beyond. Sinceits creation by an act of Congress in 1946, the institute has been turning data and observations into information useful for state and national needs. Located in Fairbanks, Alaska, the institute works and maintains facilities from Antarctica to Pacific islands to far northern Alaska. For more information about the Geophysical Institute and UAF, go to


About the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry


Founded in 1944, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is one of the nation’s leading science museums, a world-class tourist attraction, and an award-winning educational resource for the kid in each of us. OMSI operates the largest museum-based outdoor science education program in the country and provides traveling and community outreach programs that bringscience learning opportunities to schools and community organizations in nearly every county in Oregon. OMSI is located at 1945 SE Water Avenue, Portland, OR 97214. For general information, call 503.797.4000 or visit


About The Springfield Museums


THE SPRINGFIELD MUSEUMS are located on the Quadrangle at 21 Edwards Street in the heart of downtown Springfield, Massachusetts. The nationally accredited and Smithsonian-affiliated consortium of museums includes the Springfield Science Museum, the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, and the Amazing World of Dr. SeussMuseum, the first and only museum dedicated to the beloved children’s book author and Springfield native.