1972 February 16 - 1972 September
Great Gull Island—A Natural Laboratory depicted the research conducted on the Museum's field station at Great Gull Island located on the eastern end of Long Island Sound and highlighted the abnormalities noted in the island's tern population at the time; it was curated by Helen Hays of the Museum's Ornithology Department. Great Gull Island, an isolated, 17-acre former military outpost acquired by the Museum in 1949, was the largest undisturbed nesting area for terns in the Long Island Sound. Beginning in 1969 Helen Hays, chairman of the Ornithology Department's Great Gull Island Committee and others at the research station, noticed shell-thinning and birth defects among the island's tern population believed to be caused by contaminants in the Sound (1).
The exhibition was divided into sections describing the history of the island, tern banding and nesting, and recent occurrence of abnormalities. The exhibition was designed to recreate the feeling of a real tern colony (1). Some elements of this exhibition were subsequently installed in the Sanford Memorial Hall of the Biology of Birds (2, p. 22).
*Origami terns suspended from the ceiling
*Color photographs and displays explaining research and work done on the island
*Paintings of local bird species by Christopher Pineo
*An exhibit depicting a flock of terns swooping down into a typical nesting area in which mounted specimens were menaced by a hovering hawk
This is a condensed summary of the exhibition. For additional information, see Sources and/or Related Resources.
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