The wonders of the watershed will be on full display this summer in Gravenhurst.
Starting in July, the Muskoka Discovery Centre, located on the Wharf in Gravenhurst, plans to send guests on a virtual journey through the area’s watershed. The Watershed Wonders exhibit is being touted as a chance to explore the inner workings of the Muskoka watershed, both above and below the waterline.
“We all live in a watershed,” says Ann Curley, the Muskoka Discovery Centre operations manager and curator. “Kids today are very aware of the importance of the lakes, forests, shorelines and wetlands that make up the watershed. This exhibit will be an excellent learning lab for them as they learn about the uniqueness of the Muskoka Watershed.”
Curley says the idea for the exhibit was first sparked in 2014. The Discovery Centre was going through the process of creating a revitalization plan and they realized that water was a vital missing component that could potentially tie all of the stories in the museum together.
They’ve been actively working on the creation of the exhibit since the start of this year.
The exhibit celebrates Muskoka’s most significant and beautiful natural resource in a unique way, says Curley. Visitors are given the chance to discover the watershed’s place in Muskoka’s heritage and economy.
The exhibit tells five distinct stories through the use of text, images and hands-on technology.
The “water cycles” aspect shows how forests, lakes, shorelines and wetlands are interconnected component parts of the watershed.
“Biodiversity” is featured as the centrepiece of the exhibit, focusing on nature above and below the surface of the water.
The “nature challenged” display explores the risks facing watershed species, and “humans” is all about us. It details how the watershed has been the foundation of our economy here on Muskoka for over a century and a half.
“Stories touch on the impact of our actions, both good and bad,” says Curley.
As part of the stewardship and sustainability aspect of the exhibit, guests learn how to be stewards and all about the work being done to ensure the watershed’s continued good health.
Curley says she expects a big draw to be the virtual aquarium – a 96 inch touchscreen which portrays life below the surface. Without the benefit of actual water or live fish, the aquarium delivers a real underwater view, she adds.
Visitors can actually touch the fish in the virtual aquarium, which then activates a text box that pops up and delivers information on the fish and its place in the Muskoka watershed.
A three-dimensional polygon will serve as the central hub for the entire exhibit. On top will rest a boulder of real Muskoka Granite and within the polygon will be a birch tree and unique 3D casts of animal species native to Muskoka.