Department Of Interior

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Contact:Anne James
For Immediate Release: July 28, 2003

Consensus Building Through Art Exhibit Opens at Interior Museum

A large-scale mural painted by employees of the U.S. Department of the Interior as a leadership training exercise is the centerpiece of a new exhibit, Consensus Building Through Art, at the Interior Museum.

The exhibit, which continues through October 31, 2003, is part of an ongoing museum series, Art, Collaboration & Conservation, highlighting the importance of including diverse voices in the Department's decision-making process.

The mural was completed during a June workshop led by Laurie Marshall, M.A. Forty employees formed five teams to discuss the Department's mission responsibilities at the two-day training session. They sketched and painted the mural based on those conversations.

Marshall has guided teams at NASA, the Army Corps of Engineers, hospitals, and foster homes in similar collaborative art projects, which become the context in which volunteers employ communication, risk-taking, and problem-solving skills to create new solutions. These projects serve as a type of indoor Challenge Ropes Course, where paints and color pencils are the tools for accomplishing the team-building exercises.

The teams created inventive visual ways to express Interior's challenges and accomplishments in five mission-critical areas. One of the mural's panels depicts the restoration of land and water following mining activities. Another highlights scientific research of natural resources and natural hazards, silhouetted by a river of data (a stream of x's and o's) flowing in the background.

The perspective shifts in the third panel as the viewer looks up into a grove of Sequoia trees where scenes of wildlife and parks hover near the branches.

In the fourth panel, a tree of life with leaves from all 562 federally recognized American Indian nations is interspersed with symbols of the rich, diverse heritage of the tribes.

The fifth panel, which represents the tasks of policy, management, and budget, depicts a pair of hands releasing a bird, symbolizing information dissemination, while another pair holds a seedling, symbolizing resource preservation activities; another hand uses a mallet to shatter a glass enclosure signifying creative problem-solving skills that break through barriers.

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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