Department Of Interior

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Office of the Secretary
Contact: Anne James
For Immediate Release:May 10, 2004
For the Cranes Exhibit Opens at Interior Museum

(WASHINGTON) -- What are five feet tall, as graceful as ballerinas, but while dancing make a noise some say sounds like a shrill bugle? Cranes; known for their long legs, feathered crown and beauty in flight.

What is less known is that cranes are in trouble. The new Interior Museum exhibit, "For the Cranes," features art by children in India for an International Crane Foundation-sponsored program alerting students to the significant threats facing 11 of 15 species of cranes.

Creating paintings and drawings of cranes, the students learn that the birds need protection from pollutants, habitat destruction, and power lines to survive. The Interior Museum exhibit includes twenty works on paper, opened Friday, May 7, 2004, in celebration of International Migratory Bird Day 2004, and continues through August 6, 2004.

The ICF promotes the global understanding of crane conservation through this program, The Children's International Art Exchange. The United States and India are two of ten participating countries that host competitions, select works for exhibition, and send them to other nations taking part in the exchange. The Department of the Interior's U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are co-sponsors of the 2004 exhibition through its Wildlife Without Borders program.

Using watercolors, tempera paints, crayons, and pastels, the students have created beautiful, sublime images. Sometimes they depict cranes silhouetted by the rising sun while wading in the marshes. In the background of many of the works are the magnificent mountains that border the wetlands the cranes call home.

Several of the young artists (who range in age from 6 to 16) live and go to school in Guwahati, in northeastern India's state of Assam. The Brahmaputra River runs through this small city surrounded by the foothills of the eastern flank of the Himalayas. It is the loss of sarus cranes (Grus antigone) in their region that has spurred their concern for cranes around the world.

In North America, the number of whooping cranes (Grus americana) has rebounded from a low of less than 20 birds in 1941 to a total of 400 whooping cranes today, including those in the wild and in captivity. Many winter on the Gulf Coast of Texas at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, then migrate to Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada during the summer.

The Interior Museum's "For the Cranes" exhibit also displays two sculptures made from found objects by California artist Susan Leibovitz Steinman that heighten awareness about bird conservation through art. The pieces raise the questions - what if birds were no longer part of our communities? What if birds were missing in action? Ms. Steinman serves as an artist-in-residence for the National Park Service River and Trails Conservation Assistance program, Art and Community Landscapes.

The Interior Museum educates the public and Department of the Interior employees about the current missions and programs of the Interior Department, the history of the agency, and the art and architecture of its headquarters building. The Interior Museum is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (except Federal holidays) and the third Saturday of each month from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission is free. Adult visitors must present a form of photo identification (such as a driver's license, student ID, or employment card) when entering the Main Interior Building at 1849 C Street, N.W., in Washington, D.C. Wheelchair access is available at the 18th and E Streets entrance. For more information, call 202-208-4743.


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