26 Jan - 13 April 2008 -  Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens



Whatever the Weather

A new exhibition exploring the topical subject of weather and climate change will open at Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens on 26 January.

Touring from Gulbenkian prize finalist Weston Park Museum, the exhibition reflects the importance of weather and climate, explaining how the weather works, showing its importance to many different cultures around the world and recalling some of the most unusual and extreme weather events in history. It will also be supported by a series of events, creative workshops and family activities.

The exhibition shows how our weather patterns and climate zones are part of a delicately balanced, dynamic system that is affected by how we live within it. The exhibition explores the reasons for extremes of weather and illustrates simple, small ways in which individual visitors can adapt the way they live to affect the natural world positively.

Whatever the Weather is suitable for a wide audience, including children, who are able to create their own weather systems and so understand how they develop. Large-scale interactive devices will conjure clouds and mini-tornadoes in the exhibition gallery.
The exhibition also explains some of the most widely used terms, which are increasingly heard but not always explained – biosphere, carbon footprint, El Niño, Kyoto Protocol, high and low pressure and many others.

Among the exhibits are historic instruments invented to measure weather, including the famous storm glass barometer developed by the captain of HMS Beagle, Robert Fitzroy, and used by sailors to check pressure before setting sail. Another treasure on show is a 1930s ‘canary ambulance’, a specially crafted, tiny oxygen supply to revive the canaries that coal miners took with them deep underground to detect dangerous gases. Miners knew they were in danger when their canary stopped singing. The situation in Antarctica has been described as a ‘canary in a coal mine’, as it is the main indicator of global climate change.

Whatever the Weather shows how the natural world reacts to weather, including remarkable examples of animals that ‘forecast’ impending weather, including South American spiders, canaries, crickets and butterflies. And, to prove that it is not just the British who talk about the weather, international weather superstitions and weather gods like Ra and Neptune will feature.

Jo Cunningham, Manager of Sunderland Museums says: ‘‘One look at the extreme weather we experienced in 2007 makes it clear that issues explored in Whatever the Weather are more relevant and important to us every day. While tackling the basics of how weather works - how clouds are formed, why seasons change – we will also explore the issue of the world’s changing climate and offer practical examples of how the smallest contributions by individuals can have a vital cumulative impact on the problem.”

Whatever the Weather is supported by DEFRA’s Climate Challenge Fund and has been created by Sheffield Galleries & Museum Trust in partnership with Tyne & Wear Museums and the Museum of Croydon.

Free entry
26 Jan - 13 April 2008
Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens is open
Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm and Sunday 2pm - 5pm

Sunderland Museum & Winter Gardens
Burdon Road

Tel (0191) 553 2323
Textphone 18001 0191 553 2323
Fax (0191) 553 7828



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