If you missed either of the summer's two big exhibitions at Fort Hays State University's Sternberg Museum of Natural History, you've got a second chance. The museum announced plans on Thursday to extend them into the fall.
"The responses of visitors who've seen these two shows have been overwhelming," said museum Director Jerry Choate. "We wanted to make sure that others had an opportunity to experience them."
"In the Dark: Worlds Without Light" explores the little-seen and often-feared environments of darkness. Visitors enter through a darkened cave, complete with roosting bats and the sound of falling water. The exhibition continues through nighttime landscapes to the ocean depths and the soil beneath our feet. Each diorama immerses visitors into the pseudo environment.
"In the Dark" features many interactive exhibits that encourage visitors to try the survival skills of dark-adapted animals. Visitors can fly through a cave like a sonar-guided bat, capture food like a heat-sensing snake or balance like a jellyfish. They can also read braille or use a cane to identify objects by feel and by sound.
"This is a fun exhibition," said museum volunteer Sharon Richards. "There's a lot for kids and adults to do and it's visually exciting and kind of mysterious."
The second exhibition, "Blind Ambition," focuses on the adaptations that blind artists have made to their own worlds without light. The exhibition features paintings by Lisa Fittipaldi of San Antonio, TX.
In 1993, Fittipaldi was stricken with a rare disease called vasculitis. In six short months, she went from being a successful CPA to losing her vision, her job, her entire world as she knew it. Overcome with depression, Fittipaldi spent two years relearning the most basic activities of life. Her husband, having heard that art was good therapy for depression, bought her a child's watercolor set in 1995.
Fittipaldi, who did not even draw before becoming blind, responded to the challenge. Her surprising response revealed an undiscovered talent. Encouraged by her first attempt (which is included in the exhibit) she developed a series of techniques for using her other senses to master a highly visual medium. Working from memory of a life rich with images, she paints colorful, realistic scenes. She has received world-wide acclaim and her works are in high demand.
"When we extended the 'Blind Ambition' exhibition, we also arranged for Fittipaldi to visit Hays," said Choate. "On October 22, she'll give a public presentation and demonstrate her painting techniques."
"In the Dark: Worlds Without Light" will remain at Sternberg Museum through Nov. 10, 2002, and "Blind Ambition: Paintings by Lisa Fittipaldi" will stay through Dec. 31. For more information, contact the Sternberg Museum by phone at (785) 628-4286 or toll free at 1-877-332-1165.