When the State Historical Society of North Dakota (SHSND) embarked on an expansion of its Heritage Center, the project included a complete redesign of the permanent exhibitions that interpret more than 500 million years of North Dakota’s history and unique environment. The Adaptation Gallery: Geologic Time is one of three new exhibitions that showcase the SHSND’s outstanding collections. This exhibit is a dramatic and engaging presentation of the landscape, climate, geology and biology of millions of years of the pre-human past of North Dakota – from the gigantic sea creatures living in ancient inland seas to the rise and fall of dinosaurs and the appearance of mammals.
Great Plains Exhibit Development Joint Venture, comprised of Xibitz, Lord Cultural Resources and Taylor Studios, worked in collaboration with stakeholders from the museum, the architect and the public to bring the past alive in this educational and exciting exhibit. Our team traveled the state conducting focus sessions that sought public input regarding the stories told in the museum. The resulting designs employed a mix of traditional and contemporary exhibition techniques, including recreated environments, interactive media, and hands-on components that respond to a variety of learning styles.
Key messages in the Geologic Time exhibit include how plants and animals were forced to adapt or become extinct in a changing climate and landscape, the scarcity of the fossil record, and how our knowledge regarding the geologic past is constantly changing and growing as new discoveries are made.