Journey beneath the earth’s skin

Dig it!The Secrets of Soil Exhibition

There are more living creatures in a shovel-full of soil than human beings on the planet, yet more is known about the dark side of the moon than about soil.

More about this and so many fascinating facts can be found at Dig It! The Secrets of Soil in Spokane from February 4 through September 22, 2012, hosted by the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate.

The 5,000-square-foot exhibition reveals the complex world of soil and how this hidden ecosystem supports nearly every form of life on Earth. Dig It! includes interactive displays, hands-on models, videos and soil samples. Visitors will discover a world teeming with life. So many organisms contribute to the health of soil that scientists have not even named them all.

Dig It! shows how every type of soil is unique. Visitors can observe the way water moves through different soils—such as sand, silt, and clay—which can affect minerals and gases and all life that depends on soil.

Dig it! The Secrets of Soil Exhibition

Lynn Bahrych, Commissioner, Washington State Conservation Commission, was on temporary assignment as the Dig It! Project Manager. “Soils impact so much in our daily lives—nutrition, climate, health and environmental issues. This exhibition offers visitors a chance to understand the important connections between soils and our culture.”

This exhibition has something for all ages. There will be school field trips, ‘dirty’ art projects, lectures by learned soil scientists, and movies. A living history day for the whole family is planned for spring, planting a victory garden on the museum campus, Earth Day participation, and more. This summer, teen docents in the galleries will lead even more hands-on fun.

Dig it! The Secrets of Soil Exhibition

After examining soil close up, visitors can step back for the “big picture” with a world map and interactive stations that present connections between soil and global systems. Models demonstrate the roles of soil in commercial and residential construction. An evocative video explains soil as a “secret ingredient” in such household goods as medicines, food, wine, textiles, paint, cosmetics and pottery.

Dig It! was created with the support of the Soil Science Society of America and the Nutrients for Life Foundation, underwritten by The Fertilizer Institute. Locally, a network of sponsors includes the Spokane Conservation District, Washington State Conservation Commission, Natural Resource Conservation Service, State Society of Professional Soil Scientists, and others—enabling the museum to bring this exhibit to the Inland Northwest.

“This is the most ambitious exhibition ever dedicated to soils, a resource as important to life on Earth as water and air,” said Patrick Megonigal, soil scientist at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, in Maryland. Megonigal, the exhibition’s lead curator, will join the February 4 opening activities, along with Barbara Stauffer and Siobhan Starrs, Exhibition Developers from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, from which the exhibition was loaned.

Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture
2316 W First Ave., Spokane
Open 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Excerpted from an article by Rebecca Bishop, Communications & PR Manager, Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture.