National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

New Google feature allows virtual tour of National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

CINCINNATI – People around the world can now virtually travel the path to freedom, including a journey on the Underground Railroad. Google Cultural Institute is giving visitors around the world a chance to take a detailed look inside the National …

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Indulge in Chocolate: The Exhibition, a Mouth-Watering Experience Open Oct. 11 at the Academy of Natural Sciences

October 22, 2014 – 8:33 am | Comments Off

PHILADELPHIA — A unique tropical tree. A seed so precious it was used as money. A spicy drink and a sweet snack. A multi-billion-dollar worldwide business. Chocolate is all this and much more. Indulge in the sumptuous world of chocolate starting Saturday, Oct. 11, when Chocolate: The Exhibition, presented by Mars Chocolate, opens at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University.

ChocolatewithgirloriginalChocolate traces the intriguing story of this “food of the gods” from its origin as a unique tropical rain forest plant, to the Aztecs who used cacao seeds as currency, to the Spanish who added sugar and transformed the bitter drink of kings, to the sensuous sweet millions of people crave today. Chocolate brings to life the rich history and wide impact the treat has had across the globe. It’s a sweet experience that engages all the senses and reveals facets of chocolate most people have never thought about before.
On view from Oct. 11 through Jan. 24, 2015, Chocolate is presented in both Spanish and English. There is a $5 fee to enter the exhibit in addition to regular museum admission. Visit the Academy’s website,, for details about opening weekend festivities including chocolate foods and crafts presented with the Mexican Cultural Center to celebrate Hispanic Cultural Weekend.
Visitors to Chocolate: The Exhibition will explore the plant, the products, the history, and the culture of chocolate through the lenses of botany and ecology, anthropology and economics, conservation and popular culture. Visitors can:
• Stand beneath a cacao tree in a lush rain forest replica and examine cacao seed pods up close.
• Engage with animated modern-day machinery that turns cacao from seed to sweet, solid bar.
• Follow a cacao harvest on a Mexican plantation and cacao’s preparation for market.
• Barter cacao seeds for goods in an Aztec market and learn about Quetzalcoatl, the god who brought the sacred source of chocolate to the Aztec.
• Interpret glyphs on a royal Maya pot and see archaeological vessels that once held the drink of kings.
• Admire beautiful porcelain and silver chocolate services from Europe.
“Chocolate: The Exhibition will change the way you enjoy chocolate,” said Director of Exhibits Jennifer Sontchi. “The fun of the exhibit is that afterwards, every bite of chocolate you taste is richer for what you learned about it here.”
The plant and the midge
Philadelphia has played a key role in the chocolate industry for nearly 200 years and remains an important port for shipments of cacao and other ingredients used to make chocolate products. “The cuisine culture of Philly is one of the things that sets it apart, and numerous major chocolate companies are based in this region,” said Mary Bailey, special exhibits educator.

Page 2, Chocolate
Bailey and her team will augment the exhibit with mobile “touch carts” bearing teaching treasures including a real cacao pod, monkey fur, puff balls, chocolate midges, snake skin, an okapi skull, and easy-to-digest information about the rainforests where cacao plants grow. Fall marks the debut of a new type of educational cart for engaging visitors, one that Bailey calls the tech cart.
“It has a digital screen where we can show magnified images, so groups of people can see dissections of flowers, fruits and pods and even look at the cells of an onion skin,” Bailey said.
Visitors also will see up close a very tiny insect, a midge, on which the $50 billion-a-year chocolate industry depends. It’s a fly that closely resembles a mosquito, and many scientists believe it is the only creature that pollinates the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao. Without the midge, there would be no cacao plant.
“Theobroma cacao has been the basis of a globalized industry for almost 500 years, yet we still know remarkably little about its pollination,” said Academy Curator of Botany Tatyana Livshultz, who studies pollination. “The first pollination study on wild plants was published only last year. Under cultivation, fruit set in T. cacao is pollination limited, so optimizing pollination can have a major impact on the global supply of cacao.”
Another interesting aspect is that cacao is different from many other trees. It grows in the shade of larger trees in tropical regions of Central America, South America, Africa and Asia. It is relatively short—30–40 feet tall—and has lovely, delicate flowers that grow directly on the trunk and lower branches, where the low-flying midges can reach them.
A look back in time
Today chocolate is known primarily as a candy or sweet dessert, mass-produced or cooked up in mom’s kitchen. But it wasn’t always so.

The ancient Maya of Mexico and Central America (200–900 C.E.) knew it as a frothy, spicy drink, made from the seeds of the cacao tree and used in royal and religious ceremonies. The Aztec, between the 13th and 16th centuries, used the cacao seeds as money, and the chocolate drink was reserved for warriors and nobility for use in rituals and ceremonies. In the 16th century, the Spanish mixed sugar into the drink, and, almost a century later, the first English chocolate house opened.

Chocolate: The Exhibition fills in the sordid, the fascinating and the fun details of chocolate, including stories involving slavery, World War II and myths about chocolate’s amorous effects. Complementing the exhibit, the Academy will present daily showings of Modern Marvels videos about chocolate, as well as special chocolate tastings and weekend programs.

Chocolate and its national tour were developed by The Field Museum, Chicago. This exhibition was supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation. Chocolate is presented by Mars Chocolate. 6ABC is the Academy’s media partner.

For the full press kit of Chocolate information, visit
For images, visit:
News media contact:
Carolyn Belardo, Senior Communications Manager, The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
Phone: 215-299-1043,, | Press Room:

Founded in 1812, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University is a leading natural history museum dedicated to advancing research, education, and public engagement in biodiversity and environmental science.

HOURS: Monday–Friday, 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. ADMISSION: $15.95 adults; $13.95 children 3-12, seniors, college students, and military personnel; free for members and children under 3. PHONE: 215-299-1000


Titanoboa, the Biggest Snake That Ever Roamed the Earth See it in Philadelphia Starting Feb. 14, 2015

October 22, 2014 – 8:33 am | Comments Off

PHILADELPHIA (October 14, 2014) — It is the biggest snake that ever roamed the planet, and it is coming to Philadelphia in February 2015.
At 48 feet long and 2,500 pounds, Titanoboa cerrejonensis grew as long as a school bus and …

A Galaxy of Celestial Beauty on Display at the James A. Michener Art Museum

October 22, 2014 – 8:31 am | Comments Off
Art of Astrophotography

Starstruck: The Fine Art of Astrophotography opens November 8
(Doylestown, PA) The James A. Michener Art Museum proudly announces a spectacle of galactic proportions entitled Starstruck: The Fine Art of Astrophotography. The exhibition is curated by Anthony Shostak, the Bates College …

International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum elects Ellen Curlee Board of Directors President

October 21, 2014 – 12:35 pm | Comments Off
Ellen Curlee

St. Louis – The International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum (IPHF) is pleased to announce that arts professional and current board member Ellen Curlee has been elected President for the not-for-profit’s Board of Directors.
Ellen Curlee has served the …

Utah Museum of Fine Arts November 2014 Events and Exhibitions

October 21, 2014 – 12:31 pm | Comments Off

Highlights of the Collection Tour
First Wednesday of every month | 6:30 pm
Saturdays and Sundays | 1:30 pm
FREE with general Museum admission
Experience the UMFA galleries through a thirty-minute tour with a docent. No pre-registration necessary.
Yoga at the UMFA
November 4, November …

Celebrate bats just in time for Halloween at BatFest Oct. 25

October 21, 2014 – 12:04 pm | Comments Off

Learn more about these misunderstood creatures and take part in our costume parade
CINCINNATI – Get up close and personal with live bats and learn more about these incredible creatures through hands-on activities, games and more during BatFest at Cincinnati Museum …

Learn boating essentials in St. Michaels November 15, 16

October 21, 2014 – 11:52 am | Comments Off

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is offering a two-session Boating Essentials course on Saturday, November 15 from 10 a.m. to noon and continuing on Sunday, November 16 from 2 to 4 p.m. Class participation is limited, with advanced registration needed.
Led …

Museum Presents First South Korean to Fly in Space, Soyeon Yi

October 21, 2014 – 11:40 am | Comments Off
Korean astronaut Soyeon Yi

Yi speaks of her “Mindfulness in Weightlessness” during inspirational Nov. 1 program
SEATTLE – The first South Korean to fly in space, Soyeon Yi, will be at The Museum of Flight on Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. to talk about …

Learn boatbuilding at CBMM in St. Michaels

October 21, 2014 – 10:53 am | Comments Off

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum has announced a new project for its Apprentice for a Day (AFAD) public boatbuilding program, with gift certificates available in time for the holidays. By constructing a boat from start to finish, traditional Chesapeake boatbuilding …

Family Halloween Fun as The Museum of Flight Becomes The Museum of Fright Oct. 26

October 18, 2014 – 8:31 am | Comments Off
Apollo space suit

Free admission for costumed children, eight galleries of holiday activities
SEATTLE – Every year around Halloween, The Museum of Flight becomes The Museum of Fright. On Sunday, Oct. 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. the Museum offers such a huge …


October 17, 2014 – 10:08 pm | Comments Off

Toronto – The Textile Museum of Canada (TMC) is pleased to announce the upcoming presentation by internationally acclaimed Dutch designer, Irma Boom. The lecture and cocktail reception will take place on Wednesday, November 5, 2014, 6:30 pm, at the Textile …

Festival of Lights Berlin 2014 – Guardians of Time by Manfred Kielnhofer

October 13, 2014 – 8:07 am | Comments Off
Guardians of Time

The “Guardians of Time” tour through worldwide museums and exhibitions for many years.
Since the FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS 2011, they visit the German capital on a regular basis. The time traveler of the FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS always seem mystical to their …