Beauty of biodiversity on display in new exhibition at Cincinnati Museum Center

CINCINNATI – Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) are bringing the beauty of one of the nation’s most biodiverse regions under the dome of Union Terminal. A Year on the Edge features photographs and scientific specimens from the Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System to showcase the nature preserve’s ecological impact and natural beauty. The exhibition opens February 5.

The 20,000-acre Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System is home to hundreds of plant and animal species, including Allegheny woodrats, wolf spiders, mussels and bobcats. It has inspired amateur and professional naturalists both past and present. From Dr. E. Lucy Braun’s first days studying the Edge’s expansive forests as one of the first women PhD candidates at the University of Cincinnati to today’s Boy and Girl Scouts and casual hikers looking for a bit of wilderness a short drive away, the Edge continues to awe and inspire with its natural wonder.

Through stunning photographs and scientific specimens you, too, will be inspired by the Edge’s seasons of growth and rebirth. A Year on the Edge features nearly 100 framed photographs captured over the course of all four seasons at the Edge that bring the forest to life. Brilliant sunlight streaming through rock crevices, cascading waterfalls and wildlife holding dominion over the landscape illustrate in vivid detail the beauty of the Edge’s wild spaces.

New photography from Samuel James also shows how the preserve’s 20,000 acres come alive at night. Stunning night skies filled with millions of stars mimic the forests, streams and vernal pools teeming with life below. Through long exposures and countless hours, James has captured the different flashing patterns, colors and behaviors of the many firefly species that illuminate the Eastern forest system. Streaks and dots of yellow and green flash a Morse code across the dark landscape that the blink of an eye fails to capture.

Display cases filled with specimens of some of the animals that call the Edge home highlight the rich contributions to regional ecological, botanical and zoological research. Among the specimens included are a bobcat, flying squirrel, fox, a variety of birds and a collection of research tools, including a plant press and notebook from trailblazing naturalist Dr. E. Lucy Braun. Each year researchers from CMC and The Nature Conservancy learn more about the amazing biodiversity at the Edge. In 2019, researchers discovered the region’s first timber rattlesnake and in 2014 discovered the massive Carolina wolf spider at the Edge for the first time in over 60 years. CMC is leading an ongoing conservation project to protect the Allegheny woodrat, one of the rarest mammals in Ohio and a resident of the Edge.

A Year on the Edge opens February 5 in CMC’s Museum of Natural History & Science. The exhibition is free for CMC Members and included with admission.

A Year on the Edge was developed and produced in partnership with the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and photographers Rick Conner, TJ Vissing and Samuel James.

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