Anyone who has ever owned and loved a pet has had the experience of seeing their animal meet another. However the encounter goes, us humans are often left to wonder just how aware our animals are when they communicate—and what they’re saying.
This winter, the Markham Museum offers us a chance to find out with their newest exhibition, Animal Gibberish, Subtitled for Humans.
After the popularity of Construction City with families with young children, the Markham Museum recognized the need to have something for them and their families as part of their gallery. Animal Gibberish is fun, colourful and interactive, and like Construction City, it contains lots of great science-based educational experiences. The exhibit is open from Jan. 21 to April 24.
Broken into six steps, the exhibit leads visitors to explore four specific types of communication. Connection, seduction, expressions of danger and human contact are all given an interactive, three-dimensional and tactile explanation. Some of the messages aren’t even heard but smelled. Guests are then challenged to match animal communication, not just with the correct animal, but with the right message being sent.
Animal Gibberish also includes video, hands-on displays, platforms and levels full of information. This all culminates in a Gibberish Game, designed to get visitors sending messages to 24 varieties of animals.
This exhibit is just the latest in its ongoing modernization and transformation to becoming a modern, community oriented facility.
“These include things like textiles, pottery, our blacksmith shop and more,” says the museum’s director, Cathy Molloy. “As a result, the museum is able to provide a more relevant, interactive, memorable and hands-on experience to visitors.”
This direction was in large part born from the discovery of the potteries that were located on the museum grounds that are explored in its exhibit From the Ground Up. With this, the museum became so much more than a place to preserve the past; it became a site for discovery and a living piece of history.
To support this program direction, the museum made, and will continue to make, alterations to the some of its program and structures. They have included a textile lab at the museum, as well as a fully functional pottery workshop, a large organic garden and apple orchard (which are pollinated by bees that live in the bee condo) and the program at the Blacksmith shop.
This has led directly to more immersive and tactile experiences for visitors – and has proven to be quite popular among those who have come to the museum. Exhibits like Animal Gibberish fit in to this program direction. Language and communication is a foundation of culture and this exhibition helps further understand the science of communication, and ideally will help guests learn a bit about themselves and others.
For those seeking an indoor experience, you can enjoy two other interesting, educational and engaging exhibitions in addition to Animal Gibberish. In Our Own Words and From the Ground Up explore both the history of the museum grounds itself and the people of Ontario.
For those seeking an outdoor adventure guests can borrow a pair of snowshoes and trek around the 25-acre property (rental is normally free). If you’re looking for a traditional site tour, this is also included at no extra cost.
“In celebration of Canada 150 and our diversity, this season’s feature lineup explores everything from language, communication and immigration, and archaeological discoveries from the Markham Museum grounds, which capture our city’s cultural legacy and its transition from a small town to a city of 350,000,” notes Mayor Frank Scarpitti.
Visit www.markhammuseum.ca for details.