I recently went on a walk-through of the David Douglas exhibit at the MAC. Let me start by saying I had little interest in wildlife, trees and plants. No real reason, I just didn't. So, why would I go to an exhibit all about a guy who studied these things?? To me, it just seemed interesting and cool, and let me tell you, it was! Here are 5 reasons why:
The guy has a tree named after him.
Ever heard of a Douglas fir? It's named after Douglas who studied this and many other species of trees that populate the Northwest. Unfortunately, you can't see a Douglas fir inside the exhibit (just a tad too tall), but it's fun to make the connection. Plus, you can find plenty of this tree type pretty much anywhere in Spokane.
He knew his roots and stems.
Douglas grew up in Scotland working as a gardener's apprentice and studied botany and horticulture extensively. I was surprised to learn that while in the Northwest, he identified more than 200 species of plants, animals and birds that were previously unknown to science!
18 feet of feathers!
The rare condor and albatross bird varieties were seen and written about by Douglas. One type of each bird exists in the exhibit, thanks to an expert taxidermist, and they are extremely realistic. Tilted to the side, you can see the span of each 9ft wing which is absolutely unreal, not to mention a little intimidating.
Learn about natural resources.
Douglas stayed and traveled with many native tribes while in the Northwest. He learned unique languages, new cultural practices and resourceful ways to use plants (some of which he thought were weeds!) for food, shelter and more. You can too!
The exhibit was created in Spokane, for Spokane.
Jack Nisbett, co-curator of the exhibit is an author, naturalist and Douglas expert. Along with his wife, they have created an exhibit that truly represents the Spokane region as Douglas saw it while travelling through in the 1800's. The exhibit will later travel to other destinations which is a first for the MAC, and a huge feather in Spokane's cap! Next stop: Tacoma!
David Douglas: A Naturalist at Work will be at the MAC through August 2013. The MAC is open Wednesday-Saturday, 10am-5pm. Tickets are $7 for adults. For more information, click here.