While many of us will be spending the 50th anniversary of Earth Day indoors, an array of institutions are taking their celebrations online. Comprising educational resources, virtual tours and art, the virtual experiences allow for up-close exploration of Earth’s many wonders while chronicling the history of the modern environmental movement. Honing our scope to New York City, here are some selections to get you started on your Earth Day journey.
[Looking for more environmental programming? Check out the ALL ARTS digital series “Climate Artists” for insights into how creators are tackling big questions about our planet.]
Last March, the New-York Historical Society debuted an expansive exhibition that surveyed 200 years of ecological change and environmental activism along the Hudson River. Titled “Hudson Rising,” the installation merged paintings from Hudson River School artists with scientific maps, rare books, a tank of live striped bass and documentary footage to create an immersive experience documenting the environmental saga of the river. Coinciding with Earth Day, the museum has launched the exhibition online.
“While Earth Day will be different this year, it remains a seminal reminder about the importance of our environment,” Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical Society, said. “We hope this virtual exhibition, ‘Hudson Rising,’ and our other digital offerings will inspire our followers to explore our relationship with the natural world.”
For those on Zoom, the museum also released Hudson River School-inspired backgrounds to pump up art levels on virtual calls.
[Read about the correlation between the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and climate change.]
The American Museum of Natural History is marking the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with an all-day online program, dubbed “Earth Fest.” The activities (characteristically family-friendly) kick off with a botanical dive led by expert Donald McClelland, who will walk audiences through a lesson about plants that live around us. Other opportunities include Earth Trivia hosted by Hayden Planetarium Director Neil deGrasse Tyson (aided by the museum’s scientists), a look into what Venus and Mars can teach us about Earth, a video chronicling environmental developments over the past 50 years and many more hands-on virtual sessions.
What does it take to keep Earth clean? The Museum of the City of New York hosts an educational slate of events to help give context to how environmental factors make an impact on daily life, and vice versa. Created with families in mind, the museum offers games that test your recycling skills, storytime about New Yorkers “trying to solve our trash problem,” and an exploration into rising sea levels and New York City.
“Earth Day is about more than picking up litter,” the museum stated. “It is a reflection of how we take care of our community because caring for the Earth means caring for each other.”
The New York Botanical Garden’s Earth Day programming isn’t limited to only one day. Starting Wednesday, the garden will pay homage to the environmental movement with a selection of events that stretch into the weekend. First up is a watch party of a 2019 talk by Richard Powers, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “The Overstory.” On Friday, learn how to document the city’s biodiversity with ecology tools. Saturday rounds out the celebratory weekend with a webinar about how to take action as a citizen scientist.
Performance artist Jaamil Olawale Kosoko and a team of collaborators will present a daylong immersive program of remote events. Anchored on the multimedia artwork “Chameleon,” the presents a lineup that aims to “hold grief while also centering themes of liveness, beauty, humor, care and joy.” The Earth Day slate begins with a conversation between Kosoko and artist Ebony Noelle Golden, followed by a packed series of performances, talks and more. Originally slated to be shown at New York Live Arts this spring, “Chameleon” explores the demands of Black queer life in the United States. The day’s events are co-presented by the Curtis R. Priem Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) at Rensselaer and New York Live Arts.
Take a virtual walk with the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation. While the Park’s Earth Day festivities officially launched Monday, there are still plenty of digital programs to be had Wednesday — from a virtual tour of Prospect Park’s trees to a workshop for budding gardeners. Those interested in a more strictly artistic approach to the celebrations can join local artist Jessica Dalrymple on Friday for a “Botanical Drink ‘n’ Draw” on Zoom, where she will lead participants through a lesson on traditional illustration and offer insights into horticulture.
Top Image: Daffodil Hill. Photo: The New York Botanical Garden.