Underground Adventure is an opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in the living world of soil. In one teaspoon full of earth there are more than a billion living organisms. Soil is much greater than simply a place for plants to take root. It filters water, is crucial in the recycling of organic material, and provides nutrients essential to life.
Underground Adventure sends visitors into a subterranean ecosystem blown up to 100 times its normal size. In this total-immersion environment, visitors can hear the chatter of an ant colony, the clawing of a mole cricket, and come face-to-face with an enormous wolf spider devouring a beetle grub. This exhibition is one of the only places in the world where visitors can see, up close and large-scale, the extraordinary creatures, fungi, and plants which make their home underground.
Walking through a futuristic tunnel, visitors emerge in the middle of a bustling patch of soil where they get a bugs-eye view of the world around them. They continue through jungles of roots and fungi, encountering a host of life-like animatronic creatures such as an 11-foot crawfish and a mother earwig fiercely guarding her brood. There are also numerous interactive opportunities, including scientific tasks such as investigating root tips and tracking moles. Along the way, the exhibition highlights the impact of healthy soil on the world above-ground, and visitors can learn how dependent life is on the creeping creatures that live in the dirt.
Exiting the underground portion of the exhibition, visitors enter the “Mud Room,” where they learn about human relationships to soil, both scientific and cultural. In one corner a Chinese earth god rests next to a display about important drugs made from fungi and soil related products, showing we are not only physically connected to soil but spiritually as well. One panel even describes a village in Peru that has been sustainably farming the same area for thousands of years. Visitors meet local soil critters and see how simple changes such as density and type of soil can change how effectively water is filtered through it. In other displays and interactive games, visitors are confronted by the same land management challenges which plague policy makers around the globe. Here they have to combine their new-found scientific knowledge of soil with economic realities and sustainability efforts to manage the land effectively. Visitors leave the exhibition with an unforgettable experience as well as questions to ponder about their relationship to soil.
Underground Adventure is an exciting way to learn about the importance and fragility of the ecosystem within soil. Fertile soil takes about 10,000 years to create and yet can be destroyed in minutes. Visitors not only leave exhibition stunned by the detailed, animatronic and interactive displays, but also with a deep appreciation for the ground they walk on.
Lead Sponsor: Monsanto