John Muir, Earth-Planet, Universe

Introduction and Background to the Exhibition

This exhibition was scheduled to be installed in John Muir’s Birthplace and opened on 1st April. However, due to the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact this has had on the preparation, production and installation of the physical exhibition, it is not yet known when the exhibition will be physically installed and opened in the Birthplace.

Since the public preview of the outline and plans of the exhibition in late-February – see the Preview of John Muir, Earth-Planet, Universe – some of the content and themes outlined then have been amended to include references to the current crisis. This introductory page is a summary of this revamped exhibition and subsequent pages will outline the main themes of the exhibition and provide the links to the PDF originals of the panels for the exhibition.

The exhibition focuses on John Muir’s legacy and his role as an environmental activist and successful campaigner and his relevance for our situation today in addressing the climate crisis. However, some of the content of the exhibition has been influenced by the current COVID-19 crisis. There are certain parallels between what are both global existential crises. Perhaps the pandemic may help us to understand the ties that bind us on a global scale, the fragility of our economic systems and how vulnerable they leave so many people and the inadequacy of our response to the even greater threat of climate crisis? Even though climate change presents a slower, more long-term health threat, an equally dramatic and much more sustained shift in ways of life and economic, political and social structures will be needed to prevent irreversible damage.

It has been interesting to see how relevant many of the themes being explored in the exhibition are also relevant to COVID-19, for example, the greater impact of both crises on the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world. However, both also present an opportunity to reflect on what is actually important for our wellbeing and the sort of future we want to create. John Muir had a lot to say on our need for nature as an essential element for our mental health and spiritual nourishment.

The exhibition was always intended to be a catalyst to a series of events and activities over the summer, in conjunction with other groups. How we do this will now have to change and we are exploring other ways to engage with and highlight the incredible range of existing community-led activity in our area.

We want to ask – ‘What if?’ questions to spark people’s imaginations for a positive vision for the Dunbar and East Linton ward in the context of the climate emergency.

The ‘Virtual’ Exhibition

Link to the first page of the John Muir, Earth, Planet, Universe virtual exhibition