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Double Exposure exhibition portrays warming climate through photos

Sep 13, 2010
For Immediate Release

You don't need to be a scientist to get the picture.

Norwich, Vermont—Global warming is affecting our planet in countless ways. Need proof? Double Exposure; Photographing Climate Change, a profound exhibition on display at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich, Vermont, September 25 through November 28, pairs stunning, eye-opening photographs of glaciers in Alaska and the Alps.

These arresting photographs, taken by legendary mountaineer Bradford Washburn and Boston Globe writer and photographer David Arnold, document the warming climate by comparing two photographs taken decades apart but at the same angle, vantage point and elevation.

A text panel accompanies each pair, and two additional panels introduce the exhibit and explain some of the logistical challenges of re-creating artwork in most cases recorded seven decades ago. Global warming expert Gabriela Romanow created educational panels with the intent to demonstrate the many challenges and opportunities associated with global climate change.
The gap between Washburn and Arnold's panoramas of Alaska and Switzerland reveal the shifting glacial landscapes. For example, in Blackstone Bay, Alaskan winters are 10 degrees warmer now than in 1937, with more moisture in the air, more snow, and glaciers melting at a faster rate than snow falling.

In Washburn's 1937 photograph, the edges of all five glaciers touch Blackstone Bay. In Arnold's 2007 photograph, glaciers that once lapped at Blackstone Bay have retreated or narrowed where they met at the bay.
Alaska's Guyot Glacier has retreated 14 miles since 1938 when Washburn first photographed it. Since then, enough ice has melted from this one glacier to provide for all of New York City's water needs for 97 years.
The exhibit also includes a short video loop of the final interview with Washburn, recorded shortly before he died. In it, Washburn humbly describes his initial task of taking the aerial shots, in which he was literally chained inside an airplane, holding a massive camera as the pilot made turns to achieve the proper downward angle so that Washburn could capture the lay of the land.

"All I was trying to do was to get good pictures," the photographer, then in his early 90s, said. "And sometimes I would get pictures that were artistic and had some science to them."
Two 12-foot-long panoramas, one by each photographer, taken 40 miles east of Anchorage include a text panel that details the danger Washburn put himself in, as opposed to Arnold's feat with a much more nimble helicopter. Making this exhibit all the more compelling.

Washburn (1910-2007) was a photographer, alpinist, cartographer, adventurer, and president of Boston's Museum of Science from 1938 until 1980. Arnold is a freelance photographer and journalist who was a staff reporter at the Boston Globe for 25 years. This exhibition is made possible with support from the Wilcox Family Foundation.