THE COMPELLING TALE OF A WONDROUS WATERWAY
YONKERS, N.Y. January 28, 2003 - A compelling story is unfolding at the Hudson River Museum. It tells of the geological forces that formed the Hudson River, the first humans on its shores, the region's European colonization, and the river's four centuries of development as the Hudson became the highway for America's westward expansion and growth into an industrial giant. It's all captured in Hudson Riverama, a permanent state-of-the-art environmental teaching gallery opening March 8 and 9.
Three years in the making, Riverama is a hands-on experience of "America's first river," which courses through New York State but holds a place in the imagination and memory of the entire nation. From its source at Lake Tear of the Clouds in the Adirondack Mountains to New York Harbor, the river is key to America's history and environment. Its beauty, pivotal position in commerce and tourism, and the communities of plants and animals that populate its waters and shores demand management sensitive to environmental and economic needs.
Riverama shows how the river's complex world works, the challenges to its vitality and how it must be cared for.
Simulating the Hudson's physical environment with video and audio technology, interactive computers, live fish, scenic design and a 3-D topographic model of the river and its surroundings, Hudson Riverama tells the past and present of the Hudson River to the 25,000 schoolchildren who visit the museum each year and to researchers and visitors from around the world.
The Hudson travels through 315 miles of mountains, farmlands and towns dense with manufacturing and people, flowing by the port cities of Albany, Newburgh, Kingston, Poughkeepsie and Yonkers, passing the Palisades, and finally arriving at New York City with its riverside piers, tunnels, lighthouses and bridges.
Riverama follows this route and is organized around three geographic areas - the Upper, Middle and Lower Hudson. The upper area, which extends from Lake Tear of the Clouds to Troy, illustrates the importance of the forest to this upper freshwater zone. In the Middle Hudson, from Troy to Peekskill, the visitor encounters the tidal marsh, where fresh water and ocean saltwater mix - the source of the Hudson's Indian name, Muhheakantuck, "the river that flows both ways." In this brackish environment are muskrat lodges, sturgeon, cattails and many types of marsh birds. In the final area, the Lower Hudson - Peekskill to New York Harbor - the visitor sees dense human populations, an industrial shoreline studded with docks and bustling with commerce, the protected cliffs of the Palisades and the lower Hudson estuary, where many marine species grow and mature.
At its start, Riverama highlights the Hudson's aesthetic importance with paintings and photographs from the museum's collection, which present the river's historic, romantic and natural dimensions. An interactive video map orients visitors to panoramas of 10 river sites. Central to the installation is the 3-D topographic model of the river's expanse, giving an impression of its scale and enabling visitors to locate its landmarks, natural and manmade.
The longest model ever produced of the Hudson River, the 31-foot-long model uses U.S. Geological Survey topographic data overlaid with Landsat 7 satellite imagery to produce a highly accurate model of the waterway and its surrounding regions. The model, which is to scale in length and has a three-time vertical exaggeration, will be central to many of the museum's educational programs.
Along Riverama's simulated river route are touch-screen stations developed
exclusively for the gallery, the first ever produced to teach the Hudson River environment. At "Riverkeeper Challenge," viewers see the challenges to the river and can make decisions that protect it from industrial and agricultural waste, the impact of new competing plant and animal species and the increasing human presence on its banks. At "Bird Challenge," visitors identify the river's birds by their traits and behaviors. At "Sound Swarm," binaural headphones transmit the "surround sound" buzzing of mosquitoes, dragon flies, gnats and black flies found on or near the river. Riverama's fish tanks, populated by Hudson River specimens -from the Atlantic Silverside to the Lined Sea Horse - introduce visitors to some of the 200 species living in the Hudson.
Hudson Riverama includes extensive informational text for adults and children, and computer stations where visitors can access more information. Along their Riverama journey children will complete their own trip log, acquiring stamped images of the river animals they see. The stamps are styled after drawings by John James Audubon and others, and designed by artist Brandon Ballengée.
Major support for Hudson Riverama comes from the National Science Foundation; New York State through the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the New York State Community Enhancement Program; and the Estate of Adelaide Brevoort Ward. Additional funding was provided by the Westchester Board of Legislators and County Executive Andrew J. Spano, the New York State Environmental Protection Fund through the Hudson River Estuary Program, The Christopher and Meryl Lewis Foundation, The Hudson River Improvement Fund of the Hudson River Foundation, Cablevision, Tracy McCarthy, Hitachi America, Ltd. and Fuji Photo Film U.S.A., Inc.