The raised outdoor beds at the Lillian E. Jones Museum at 75 Broadway St. in Jackson will host the National Museum of Natural History’s “Dig It! The Secrets of Soil” exhibition for Summer and early Fall of 2021, opening Monday, June 7 and running through Sept. 30. This exhibition of 16 full-color panels with remarkable photographs and graphics highlights how soil, one of Earth’s most valuable resources, sustains all life on the planet.

This exhibit is free for all to see from the outside, from the ground. The only rule is that no one climb on the historic/old stone beds! The spacing on the museum grounds makes it accessible not only for wheelchairs, but also strollers for children, and those who want to walk around on ‘Lillian’s Lawn’ located at the corner of Broadway and Broad streets. The 24x36 inch full-color panels will be at a height accessible to all to see from the grassy yard.

The exhibition is a customizable “DIY” version of an installation that was at the National Museum of Natural History from July 2008 to January 2010. “Dig It! DIY” is composed of graphic panels printed locally at Zip Printing in Jackson. Panels on display at the Jones Museum cover topics such as what “ingredients” make up soil and how soil health relates to human health.    

“Tens of thousands of different soils cover the planet,” said Patrick Megonigal, lead curator of the exhibition and associate director for research at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. “Soils tell stories about Earth’s past and present to help us better understand our planet and its future.”

This open-air exhibit is free and most easily accessible for all using the Broad Street rear entrance to the museum. The outdoor exhibit can be seen whenever you would like to visit. The indoor museum will follow its regular hours of Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with the buildings being alarmed after 3 p.m.

“The Jones Museum is the first to use the ‘Dig It!’ exhibit outdoors and so the National Museum of Natural History representatives are very excited to see photographs of their work in the out-of-doors,” said Megan Malone, director of the Jones Museum. “I will be sending them photographs of their work on display in Jackson. I encourage everyone to add ‘Dig It!’ to their summer family photos too and share if you’d like on social media with tags #SoilScience, #DigItSoilsDIY.”

In addition, the Lillian E. Jones Museum and Jackson City Library are teaming up together to celebrate the great outdoors through the Dig It! soil exhibit, to provide a “worm life” book on the Library’s Story Walk, and to hold the June 23 Petting Zoo to be held on ‘Lillian’s Lawn’ in conjunction with the Summer Reading Program entitled ‘Tales to Tails’.

The Raccoon Creek Partnership will continue working with the Jackson City Library this summer to provide additional outdoor education activities with supplies involving insects and birds and maybe even more.  Check out the web site at www.raccooncreek.org for additional information about the six-county watershed and the efforts to clean Raccoon Creek. Volunteers from the Partnership may also be at the Jones Museum to also take a close look at the Dig It! materials from the National Museum of Natural History. Information about soil interests everyone!

Owl Prowl kits were one of the recently educational outreaches to local libraries. The Raccoon Creek Partnership recently worked with the Jackson City Library to provide Owl Prowl kits to libraries in the watershed. The Raccoon Creek Partnership is a component of the Appalachian Ohio Restore Corps AmeriCorps program based in Athens.

The National Museum of Natural History is one of the most-visited natural history museums in the world. “Dig It!” opened at the museum July 18, 2008. At the end of its run in early 2010, the exhibition traveled around the country to locations such as the Durham Museum in Nebraska and the Bell Museum of Natural History in Minnesota. “Dig It!” is now installed permanently at the Saint Louis Science Center in Missouri.