A new interactive exhibition at the Galt Museum and Archives explores the tangible and intangible benefits of trees by combining science and art. It brings together Indigenous and western perspectives to show the importance of trees to human existence, according to Tyler Stewart, curator for the Galt Museum and Archives.
“Everything is connected in Indigenous science and perspective,” said Piikani Elder and environmental consultant Harley Bastien, a crucial contributor to the exhibition. “I’m hoping more and more, I don’t mean just Native people, but all people, start becoming more aware of this fact.”
Stewarts said the exhibition integrates a variety of stories to explore the history of trees in southwestern Alberta. Visitors will learn about their traditional uses and ongoing importance in an interactive way.
“Museums are lively spaces, not just with information but with opportunities to play and touch and move around so we have a great little area of a miniature tree fort here where you can, if you are an older person, relive those nostalgic year, or for kids to have an opportunity to climb around and play a little bit,” Stewart said.
Local artist April Matisz created a series of large-scale mural paintings for the exhibition, which she said she hopes will convey the emotion of being around trees.
“It’s a little bit different than the way you sometimes see trees represented in museums or natural history places — they often seem kind of stiff and again, more about a sort of realistic, scientific representation of a tree,” she said. “Science is a wonderful kind of knowledge that teaches us about the world, but the arts and the kind of poetic knowledge that the visual arts, and also a lot of Indigenous wisdom teaches us, is the knowledge of being in and with the world and I think that’s what makes these so nice in complementing the text.”
The temporary exhibition, Rooted: How Trees Give Us Life, will be up until Sept. 4.