Darkened Waters: Profile of an Oil Spill

Short Description:

An exhibition by the Pratt Museum in Homer, Alaska about the Exxon Valdez oil spill that traveled nationally for 10 years.

Description:

An exhibition by the Pratt Museum in Homer, Alaska about the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound. The exhibition traveled nationally for ten years.

s:
<p>Before the exhibition was built, only the American Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian would commit to hosting it. Some museums were afraid of oil company retribution, and many said that the public didn't want a &quot;downer.&quot; AMNH came under Congressional scrutiny in reaction to hosting the exhibition, even though most people emphasized the &quot;fairness&quot; of the presentation. Public outpouring of thanks and ongoing positive support is evidence that museum visitors are not adverse to troubling or difficult exhibition content.&nbsp;</p>

Made primarily of plywood, paint, oil drums, and photographs, the exhibition was designed to embody the spirit of Homer, a small town in Alaska. It was also one of the first U.S. exhibitions to be intentionally designed using sustainable practices and materials.

<p>Before the exhibition was built, only the American Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian would commit to hosting it. Some museums were afraid of oil company retribution, and many said that the public didn't want a &quot;downer.&quot; AMNH came under Congressional scrutiny in reaction to hosting the exhibition, even though most people emphasized the &quot;fairness&quot; of the presentation. Public outpouring of thanks and ongoing positive support is evidence that museum visitors are not adverse to troubling or difficult exhibition content.&nbsp;</p> thumbnail
<p>Before the exhibition was built, only the American Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian would commit to hosting it. Some museums were afraid of oil company retribution, and many said that the public didn't want a &quot;downer.&quot; AMNH came under Congressional scrutiny in reaction to hosting the exhibition, even though most people emphasized the &quot;fairness&quot; of the presentation. Public outpouring of thanks and ongoing positive support is evidence that museum visitors are not adverse to troubling or difficult exhibition content.&nbsp;</p>

The exhibition captured the deep sadness and anger that permeated all aspects of the community. Photographers from around the world, in efforts to "bear witness," donated the use of their images.

<p>Before the exhibition was built, only the American Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian would commit to hosting it. Some museums were afraid of oil company retribution, and many said that the public didn't want a &quot;downer.&quot; AMNH came under Congressional scrutiny in reaction to hosting the exhibition, even though most people emphasized the &quot;fairness&quot; of the presentation. Public outpouring of thanks and ongoing positive support is evidence that museum visitors are not adverse to troubling or difficult exhibition content.&nbsp;</p> thumbnail
<p>Before the exhibition was built, only the American Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian would commit to hosting it. Some museums were afraid of oil company retribution, and many said that the public didn't want a &quot;downer.&quot; AMNH came under Congressional scrutiny in reaction to hosting the exhibition, even though most people emphasized the &quot;fairness&quot; of the presentation. Public outpouring of thanks and ongoing positive support is evidence that museum visitors are not adverse to troubling or difficult exhibition content.&nbsp;</p>

"A Shock to Nature" described one sea otter's treatment at a rescue facility. The clipboard displayed the otter's entire 450-page medical record. Blue panels presented "point-of-view" statements by residents, tourists, fishermen, oil company executives, and Native Alaskans.

<p>Before the exhibition was built, only the American Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian would commit to hosting it. Some museums were afraid of oil company retribution, and many said that the public didn't want a &quot;downer.&quot; AMNH came under Congressional scrutiny in reaction to hosting the exhibition, even though most people emphasized the &quot;fairness&quot; of the presentation. Public outpouring of thanks and ongoing positive support is evidence that museum visitors are not adverse to troubling or difficult exhibition content.&nbsp;</p> thumbnail
<p>Before the exhibition was built, only the American Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian would commit to hosting it. Some museums were afraid of oil company retribution, and many said that the public didn't want a &quot;downer.&quot; AMNH came under Congressional scrutiny in reaction to hosting the exhibition, even though most people emphasized the &quot;fairness&quot; of the presentation. Public outpouring of thanks and ongoing positive support is evidence that museum visitors are not adverse to troubling or difficult exhibition content.&nbsp;</p>

"A Flood of Dollars" captured the palpable economic and political tensions that enveloped the diverse community. Oil company dollars poured into the region, while many people lost their livelihoods and spiritual homes. The year the exhibition opened, McLean gave a talk at AAM: "Small Natural History Museum Takes on Goliath."

<p>Before the exhibition was built, only the American Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian would commit to hosting it. Some museums were afraid of oil company retribution, and many said that the public didn't want a &quot;downer.&quot; AMNH came under Congressional scrutiny in reaction to hosting the exhibition, even though most people emphasized the &quot;fairness&quot; of the presentation. Public outpouring of thanks and ongoing positive support is evidence that museum visitors are not adverse to troubling or difficult exhibition content.&nbsp;</p> thumbnail
<p>Before the exhibition was built, only the American Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian would commit to hosting it. Some museums were afraid of oil company retribution, and many said that the public didn't want a &quot;downer.&quot; AMNH came under Congressional scrutiny in reaction to hosting the exhibition, even though most people emphasized the &quot;fairness&quot; of the presentation. Public outpouring of thanks and ongoing positive support is evidence that museum visitors are not adverse to troubling or difficult exhibition content.&nbsp;</p>

Before the exhibition was built, only the American Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian would commit to hosting it. Some museums were afraid of oil company retribution, and many said that the public didn't want a "downer." AMNH came under Congressional scrutiny in reaction to hosting the exhibition, even though most people emphasized the "fairness" of the presentation. Public outpouring of thanks and ongoing positive support is evidence that museum visitors are not adverse to troubling or difficult exhibition content. 

<p>Before the exhibition was built, only the American Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian would commit to hosting it. Some museums were afraid of oil company retribution, and many said that the public didn't want a &quot;downer.&quot; AMNH came under Congressional scrutiny in reaction to hosting the exhibition, even though most people emphasized the &quot;fairness&quot; of the presentation. Public outpouring of thanks and ongoing positive support is evidence that museum visitors are not adverse to troubling or difficult exhibition content.&nbsp;</p> thumbnail
Date:
1991
Client:
  • Pratt Museum
Role:
Creative Director
Funder:
  • National Science Foundation #9150159, among many others
Footprint:
3,000 square feet
Collaborators:
Betsy Pitzman, Mike O'Meara, Martha Madsen, Gordon Chun, Mary Jo Sutton, Jonathan Hirabayashi, Beverly Serrell