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Exhibits Tell the Story of Earth Day

Gaylord Nelson in a canoe looking out over the water around his beloved Apostle Islands
WHI 56854

New exhibits at the Wisconsin Historical Museum and at the Wisconsin Historical Society's headquarters building pay tribute to Earth Day founder and Wisconsin political figure Gaylord Nelson. "Gaylord Nelson and Earth Day: The Making of the Modern Environmental Movement" opened March 23 at the museum on Madison's Capitol Square and will run through June 19. The exhibit tells the story behind Nelson's Earth Day idea in celebration of its 40th anniversary. The exhibit includes photographs, letters, news clippings and other materials from Nelson's career. Several related events will take place during the run of the exhibit.

Nelson conceived the idea as a "national teach-in on the environment." Raised in Wisconsin's progressive tradition, Nelson believed that change comes from people. After struggling to build political backing for environmental legislation, he proposed a day when colleges across the country would send a message of support by holding teach-ins like those used in antiwar and social justice efforts. The concept proved popular not only at colleges, but also among schools and community groups of all kinds. Now, 40 years later, discover how a few words spoken by Nelson became a historic turning point in environmental history and forged the modern environmental movement.

Companion Exhibit at the Society's Headquarters

A companion exhibit on his career and legacy, "Gaylord Nelson: Forward Thinking," opens March 29 at the Society's headquarters building. Both exhibits are a cooperative venture of the Wisconsin Historical Society; the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; the Center for Culture, History and the Environment; and the Nelson Family.

Learn More About Gaylord Nelson and Earth Day

:: Posted March 25, 2010

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