Smithsonian Outdoor Exhibit

May 19, 2022


The Hoard Historical Museum will be hosting a Smithsonian exhibit on its grounds. The exhibit, entitled Habitat invites visitors to explore the uniqueness and importance of the natural environment. Developed by Smithsonian Gardens and made available by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), Habitat will be on display beginning Saturday, May 21. The exhibit will be on display on the Hoard Historical Museum’s grounds through 2023.

“We are very excited to host this exhibit,” said Merrilee Lee, director of the Hoard Historical Museum.  “The exhibit is displayed throughout the museum’s grounds and includes various sculptures created by local artists. As a museum, we were drawn to this exhibit because of the fascinating and timely information it shares regarding our habitat and home, the Earth.”

The exhibit itself consists of multiple outdoor kiosks spread throughout the museum’s grounds.  Each kiosk tells the story of a different aspect of habitats or explores a unique habitat and the life that can be found in it. The kiosks have been placed around the museum’s grounds. They use the museum’s gardens and landscaping to help connect the exhibit to the museum.  For example, one section of the exhibit, Monarchs and Meadows, explores the connections between the pollinating monarch butterflies and native plants.  That section’s kiosks have been placed in the museum’s rain garden, which is filled with pollinator-friendly native plants.

“The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit Service also encourages host sites to partner with local individuals and organizations for all of their traveling exhibits. In this area, we are fortunate to have numerous groups and agencies devoted to preserving and protecting the natural world around us.  However, we are very grateful for the help of the Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance in helping to install the exhibit and in assisting with outreach,” said Lee.

The Ice Age Trail is a thousand-mile long hiking trail that exists entirely within Wisconsin. The Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the Ice Age Trail’s sections in Walworth and Jefferson counties.  For more information on the trail or alliance, please visit: or

“As a museum, we host multiple art shows a year which brings us in contact with the strong art community in our area,” said Lee, director of the museum. “However, we were very lucky to partner with one particular local artist, Karen Gomez, who helped create the wonderful artwork which is part of the exhibit.”

Lee continued, “But Karen didn’t work alone. Our very own museum staff-member, Cheryl Rezabek, also created artwork for the exhibit.  Cheryl is our volunteer coordinator and very artistic! Between Cheryl and Karen, they helped add nine artistic elements to the exhibit and to our grounds.  Each element is different but connected to both the museum’s grounds and the exhibit. You could say that the artwork is now part of the museum’s habitat.”

The exhibit invites visitors to learn more about topics related to habitats, their importance to life as well as what people can do to help preserve them. Sections on topics such as fungi, monarchs, nests and insects explore the critical role that many organisms play in creating and sustaining habitats, and how people can best protect them.

Habitats provide homes for all living things, from the tiniest ant to the tallest tree. Plants, animals and other organisms have adapted to each other and their habitats over time, creating a delicate ecological balance. This balance faces many threats, including pollution, deforestation and climate change, but humans can protect habitats for the future by learning to be better stewards of the environment.

“Habitat” also explores different ecosystems and how scientists study them. For example, the section on dragonflies, Sign of the Dragonfly, shares how conservationists study indicator species, like dragonflies, to determine the health of an ecosystem.

Lee said, “We are inviting the public to join us for the exhibit’s opening on Saturday, May 21.  The exhibit, like the museum, is free to visit and enjoy.  From 10 a.m.-2 p.m., representatives from the Rose Lake Friends and the Friends of Lorine Niedecker will be on the museum’s grounds to help visitors explore local areas rich with wildlife such as Rose Lake or how we as people have tried to describe the habitats around us, like our local poet Lorine Niedecker did in her poetry. Also in attendance will be representatives from the Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance who will be sharing information on utilizing the incredible Ice Age Trail.  ”


At 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, Master Gardener and hobby beekeeper Marlene Janowski will present, “Gardening Tips for Bees and Other Pollinators,” inside the museum in the Jones Family Gallery.  Janowski will share hints and do-it-yourself projects that can be done to attract and support pollinators in gardens of varying sizes.

The exhibit will be open throughout the remainder of the summer and fall. The Hoard Historical Museum encourages people to visit during the museum’s hours, Tuesday-Saturday, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Said Lee, “We will be hosting more activities and programming related to this exhibit throughout the summer, fall, and into the winter. This is simply the beginning; look for more!”

About Smithsonian Gardens

Since its inception in 1972, Smithsonian Gardens has extended the Smithsonian’s museum experience in a public garden setting, inspiring visitors with exceptional displays and educating them about horticulture, plants, the natural and build environments and artistic design. Its research and educational programs promote the ongoing development of collections of living plants, garden documentation and horticultural artifacts. Smithsonian Gardens is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. For more information, visit the Smithsonian Gardens website.

About the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES)

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.  For more information, visit

The Hoard Historical Museum will be hosting a Smithsonian exhibit on the grounds of the museum.  The exhibit opens to the public on Saturday, May 21.  Shown here are museum staff members plus volunteers from the Hoard Historical Museum and the Walworth/Jefferson County Ice Age Trail Alliance chapter as they work to install the exhibit on the museum’s grounds. For more information regarding the exhibit, please contact the Hoard Historical Museum at 920-397-9914 or