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Exhibit Work Samples



1. Seasons of the Rough-Skinned Newt

A quick summary of a tricky life cycle.


2. Salmon Personals

A bit of irreverence in a newspaper-style poster on salmon conservation.


3. Map labels for And a History Ran Through

Making sense of a 1906 map of our area.


4. Jellies: Jewels of the Sea

Elegant text for an elegant exhibit.


5. The Great White Mystery

An unabashedly corny take on shark conservation.


6. Recipe for a Clamburger

A fun explanation of one fossilization process.


7. Marine Mammal Enrichment

How an aquarium saves their seals, sea lions, and sea otters from boredom.



Another fun treatment of a popular animal.


9. Volunteer training background sheet

A summary of an interactive anthropology exhibit area.



1. From the pond sign in a system of trail signs (City of Lincoln City, 2009)

Seasons of the Rough-Skinned Newt

The great march to the pond

Every fall, adult rough-skinned newts migrate to pond breeding sites along newt “highways”—well-traveled routes down to the pond.



In the wintertime, female newts deposit their eggs on pond plants and males fertilize them. These adult newts won’t leave the pond until May or June.



In about three weeks, larvae—the equivalent of frog tadpoles—hatch out from the eggs.


The big change

Newt larvae feed on small creatures in the pond. By late summer, they have changed into four-legged, tailless juveniles.


Youngsters emerge

Juvenile newts walk out of the water for the first time in the fall. They’ll spend four or five years growing up on land, mostly hiding under logs or stones.


[The above is excerpted from the pond sign. Others in the set were in the alder woods, the evergreen forest, and the salt marsh. Designed by Steve Bemis.]

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2. Excerpt from a panel designed as a page from a fictitious newspaper, the Salmon Times (Oregon Coast Aquarium, 1999)



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3. Map labels from an exhibit about how the Yaquina River influenced the history of Toledo, Oregon (City of Toledo, 2008)


Towns and Trends along the Yaquina River


Newport’s fortunes rose with the completion of the Coast Highway in 1936, with an increase in tourism and fishing, and by becoming Lincoln County’s seat in the early 1950s. It is the county’s largest town.


South Newport, now known as South Beach, started with a tourist campground and a rowboat ferry and grew to be a center for marine science research and exhibition. South Beach was the southern end of the trip on the car and passenger ferry Sadie B. across the Yaquina River.


Yaquina City, terminus of the Oregon Pacific railroad, had a dock, warehouses, a passenger ferry boat to Newport, and a thriving business community to support it all. When its section of the railroad was retired, Yaquina City disappeared.


West Yaquina originally made a bid for county seat, but Toledo won the acrimonious election and West Yaquina faded away.


South Yaquina, like other town names in the area, was never more than a dream and a plat map.


Oneatta once had a sawmill and boat works, but the town no longer exists.


Oysterville and Wynant were centers of the native Yaquina Bay oyster harvest. When the oyster was overharvested and nearly extinct, the towns disappeared, too.


In its early days, Toledo was the center of Lincoln County’s lumber industry, with several thriving mills. It was the county seat until the early 1950s, when the seat shifted to Newport. The Georgia Pacific paper mill continues as an important Toledo employer.


Elk City, just downriver from the head of tidewater, was an important center for river traffic—mail, supplies, settlers, travelers, produce, and log rafts. A small settlement remains today.

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4. Two of eight panels from Jellies: Jewels of the Sea, an elegant exhibit of over a dozen species of jellyfish (Oregon Coast Aquarium, 2000)


Success in the Sea


In all the years these creatures have been on our planet,

they have developed hundreds of ways of being a jelly.

Jellies come right side up

or upside down,

floating free

or attached by a stalk,

clear as crystal

or in jewel tones.

One jelly species

lives in fresh water.

One species is an active hunter.

Jellies have been around

for 650 million years,

since before the dinosaurs

and before the sharks.


Ocean Drifters


A jelly goes wherever the currents might be headed.

If the animal needs to move up or down in the water,

it gently pulses its umbrella.


A ring of muscles around

the edge of the bell contracts,

bending the gelatin layer

and forcing water out of the bell.

The jelly moves ahead

by jet propulsion

The gentle pulsing

keeps the animal’s

tentacles untangled

and spread out,

increasing the chances

that prey will

bump into them.

A reviewer’s comment on the jelly text:


“Here, the concept is label as poem, which is frankly something I've never seen before.  Not only is the concept novel, but it is executed beautifully, and is perfectly integrated into an elegant graphic design. The bold text at the beginning of each panel is exactly enough to whet one's appetite to read more, yet gives you something even if you don't. The way the text floats down the page/panel is almost a literary evocation of a jellyfish's fluid movement through the water as its parts dangle below it. There is a nice balance of ‘scientific’ facts with more whimsical bits of information, strung together much in the same way that parts of a jelly's body seem patched from a kit of parts.”


—From “In the Beginning (and the End) Is the Word: Best Practices in Museum Exhibition Writing,” a Marketplace of Ideas exhibit of exemplary label writing, sponsored by the Curators’ Committee of the American Association of Museums at the AAM 2001 conference.


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5. Two panels from The Great White Mystery: What Happened to Surfer Bob?, a detective-style exhibit on sharks (Oregon Coast Aquarium, 2001)




Case: What happened to Surfer Bob?


Suspects: The Big Mouth Mob



- Big Mouth Mob members prey on small-time drifters and the little fish of the neighborhood.

- Mugsy Megamouth only came to the attention of authorities in 1976 and is poorly known; needs surveillance.

- Interpol reports that Wanda the Whale Shark is the biggest fish in the sea.


Officer in charge: Gill T. Shark


[The Crusher Crew and the Razortooth Gang got similar police write-ups.]


Help keep Hal the Hammerhead from getting caught by accident


The hidden shark fishery


When a boat’s fishing gear goes in the water, there’s a targeted catch, such as salmon or halibut. Any other fish—like Hal the Hammerhead—that takes the bait or is caught in the net is called bycatch. Sharks are a big bycatch item in several important fisheries such as tuna, swordfish and some shrimp fisheries.


Fishing regulations try to ensure that a fishery leaves enough of the target species to replenish populations. The problem for Hal is that bycatch is accidental, and shark species could almost be wiped out without people even realizing it.


Another problem is that bycatch sharks get their fins cut off for the shark fin soup trade. Then animal is thrown overboard, only to die in the water.


This hammerhead shark was caught in a net set for a different kind of fish.


BYCATCH + Finning + Slow reproduction + Habitat loss + Inadequate regulation = Trouble for sharks

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6. An illustrated recipe-shaped card in an exhibit of beach finds (Oregon Coast Aquarium)


Recipe for a Clamburger


Some of the fossils on the beaches near Newport are called “clamburgers.” You can see why when you look closely at one! Here’s how a clamburger was formed:




Clam, alive or dead

Sand or mud sediment







Bury the clam, snail or other animal in sand or mud, perhaps in a sudden storm. Add more soil and sand in layers for thousands of years. Over the years, increase pressure, squeeze out water, and add minerals to cement the sediment together.


To expose the fossil

Lift up the rock layers to form beach cliffs. Allow wind and waves to wear away the rock, exposing fossils.


To find fossils on the beaches near Newport

Fifteen or 20 million years after the clam died, walk along all levels of the beaches. Keep your eyes peeled for loose fossils and for clams and snails embedded in rocks and cliffs. If you find one, chances are there’s a lot more somewhere nearby!

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7. Two signs from an exhibit on marine mammal enrichment (Oregon Coast Aquarium)


Who's training whom?


Some of the sea lions here play games with people, luring visitors from one window to the other. Then there are the ones that encourage you to draw a circle with your hand so they can follow it. Wait a minute—whose idea was this, anyway?



How do you check the teeth of a 300-pound sea lion?


To care for an animal, we need to have it trained to open its mouth on cue, hold out a flipper or come and be weighed. And if we need to move an animal, it needs to be trained to walk into a cage.

Another type of training uses natural behaviors such as barking, jumping and diving. These training activities are just plain fun for the animals and keep them stimulated.

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8. Selected text blocks, photo captions and interactive flip panels from FROGS! Clues to Survival (Oregon Coast Aquarium, 1994)


Frogs and toads are a bit picky in their habits. If it's too warm or too dry, they won't eat. If it's too cool or too dry, they won't mate. That's why their health is such a good warning system for human-caused changes in the environment.


* * * *


Do frogs molt?

Yes, sometimes every few days. They push off their skin with their feet, usually all in one piece, and eat it as they go.


* * * *


How does a frog zap a bug?

Its sticky tongue is attached at the bottom front of its mouth. The tongue flips out, hits the bug from above, flips back in—and down the hatch!


* * * *


About 55 species of poison dart frogs are known to live in Central and South America. They all are extravagantly colored—why bother to hide or escape when your skin advertises its own deadly poisons?


* * * *


It won't help a poison dart frog any to be poisonous, if people keep cutting down the forests where it lives. Projects and laws that encourage protection and sustainable harvest methods can help preserve the habitats so important to frogs.


* * * *


Ready, aim . . .


The marine toad can spray its urine a yard or more.

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9. A section from volunteer training material for a life-sized, walk-in contemporary Maya dwelling (The Science Museum of Minnesota, 1978)


The Zinacanteco House

Background Information


A Zinacanteco house, though it has no interior walls or rooms, is conceptually divided into living spaces.


THE HEARTH is the household’s focal point—here the women do much of their work, children spend time, and men come to eat and warm themselves at the fire. A Zinacanteca woman spends hours at her hearth grinding corn, making tortillas, and preparing other food for her family. Her “kitchen” is arranged so that almost anything she needs is within reach as she sits or kneels on a mat before the fire.


If the hearth is predominantly a female area, THE ALTAR against the opposite wall is the house’s male space. Here the men (and sometimes women) of the family, their relatives, friends, and fellow villagers perform ceremonies to celebrate special days or certain seasons, or to cure a sick person.


Poorer families keep corn in a STORAGE BIN in a corner of their house, protecting the grain with a cross. Others have a granary outdoors.


A family’s SLEEPING AREA may be permanent, with plank beds covered with mats, or it may consist simply of a place on the floor to put mats that are rolled up and stored away every morning.


Furniture is kept simple, functional, and small, since space is at a premium.


HEARTH—Three stones in the fire support the large clay or metal tortilla griddle and other cooking vessels. The fire almost never dies out (only when the whole family is gone for more than a day); each morning the cook blows on the coals to revive it.


TABLES—A built-in, permanent work space is near the fire. It holds the grinding stone(s) and other cooking utensils. A family may have a large table for ritual meals, and some families eat everyday meals on a very small table. Others use no tables, sitting instead on chairs and stools around containers of food set on pots or baskets (never on the floor) and used in common. Tables are often hung on the wall when not in use.


CHAIRS—Regular-sized chairs are low and small; they take up little space and let men sit close to the fire to warm themselves. If a family owns a large chair, it is used when an important person comes to visit. Females of all ages sit or kneel on mats rather than use chairs. Boys use stools. Chairs and stools are often hung on the wall or leaned against it when not in use.


SHELVES—They are built into the wall or are hung with rope from the rafters.


PEGS—Zinacanteco people hang sacks from pegs driven into the wall.


STAKES—Forked stakes in the floor hold pots, lanterns, and bags.


POLES AND CLOTHESLINES—Suspended from the ceiling, they hold clothes and blankets.


POLE ABOVE THE FIRE—This holds pots or drying meat on hooks.

The area outside a house, often enclosed by a fence, is nearly as important as the interior.


Zinacanteco families hold ceremonies and entertain guests on THE PATIO. Children play there, women weave, and men and women perform small tasks. Wood and corn may be stored on the patio, and chickens lay their eggs in grass-filled baskets there.


A SWEATHOUSE near the main house is used by people who are being cured of a sickness or who have just given birth.


A large FENCED-IN AREA contains a vegetable and flower garden, with a sheep corral and corn patch just outside.

Most houses have tile roofs and walls of wattle and daub (saplings and/or bamboo plastered with clay). Thatched roofs and adobe walls are also in use. Floors are always of packed earth, which works well because tracked-in mud and spilled liquids all become part of the floor. Zinacanteco housewives regularly sweep the hard surface clear of debris.

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