National Scenic Visitors Center / Earthwalk USA
Sharing the wonder of America’s diverse landscapes, instilling
the passion to explore and the will to protect
the passion to explore and the will to protect
Earthwalk Explorer lands in Harrisburg, PA
Earthwalk Explorer is now open in the East Rotunda of the Pennsylvania State Capitol in Harrisburg.
The Explorer, an educational and engaging map-walking experience for families and students of all ages, is located adjacent to the East Wing Rotunda from January 26 to February 25, 2022. This 8 x 16 ft. walkable relief map is open to visitors Mondays through Fridays from 9 am to 4 pm.
Almost 5000 visitors have ‘Earthwalked’ across the map, and enjoyed the amazing birds-eye view of the Eastern United States. In between Explore Mode sessions, where visitors (in socks) can walk the three-dimensional relief map while animated graphics detail aspects of the landscape, two Geoshow presentations are shown; Native American Trails of Pennsylvania, and Native American Petroglyphs of Pennsylvania. There is also a free-standing replica of the Jennings Rock (see photo below), which contains many of the fascinating and evocative petroglyph rock etchings explored in the Geoshow presentation.
The Explorer map will next travel to the Lancaster (PA) Science Factory from March 2 until May 28, 2022.
Plan your visit today and experience a new kind of map adventure ~ The National Scenic Visitors Center Earthwalk Explorer!
Earthwalk Explorer returns to the Da Vinci Science Center on September 11
Good news for map lovers, earth walkers, sock wearers, trail hikers, history lovers, and everyone in between! The National Scenic Visitors Center’s Earthwalk Explorer walkable relief map is returning for a second, longer visit to the Da Vinci Science Center.
Da Vinci, a favorite Allentown destination for kids and adults alike, will unroll the giant floor map from Saturday, September 11 til Sunday, October 31, 2021. The Explorer’s first sold-out public exhibition took place at Da Vinci on May 20. The map’s upcoming 7 week installation will give those who may have missed it a great opportunity to come and see for themselves what it’s like to be a benevolent giant walking over the landscape beneath them. It’s a great way to learn, explore, or just browse the remarkable surface of our amazing earth.
Earthwalk Explorer is an 8’x16’ three-dimensional representation of the U.S. from North Carolina to New Hampshire. The mountains are real raised ridges you can feel with your feet and touch with your hands. The topography is rendered in polyurethane rubber. Projected graphics and animations show state borders, cities, parks, rivers, lakes, and cultural features. Music and lively colors complete the atmosphere – one designed to engage young and old!
Earthwalk Explorer also features two colorful Geoshows on the Native American presence in Pennsylvania. Native American Trails of Eastern Pennsylvania focuses on the network of native trails that formed the foundation of much of our modern transportation network. Native American Petroglyphs of Pennsylvania focuses on Lenape rock carvings (petroglyphs) found throughout Pennsylvania. A replica of the famous Jennings petroglyph from the Delaware River accompanies the Explorer exhibit.
Masking and social distancing requirements will be maintained according to the Da Vinci Science Center’s current policies.
We hope those of you who missed walking the map last time will get a chance to don your socks for this unique adventure in exploration.
The project is supported by grants secured by Senator Pat Browne from the Commonwealth of PA, the Counties of Northampton and Lehigh, Arts and Culture Relief from the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, the Dexter F. and Dorothy H. Baker Foundation, and the Minerva Foundation. NSVC’s Earthwalk Explorer was built in conjunction with the Northampton County Community College Fab Lab. Discover Lehigh Valley, The Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, Lehigh University’s Integrated Business and Engineering Program, Working Dog Press, HCSC and Seton Hall University have also provided support. See Attachment D, Exhibit Description.
Exploring the Explorer
The National Scenic Visitor Center’s first walkable relief map has hit the road, with appearances at the Da Vinci Science Center and Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center over the past weeks. Additional slots are being negotiated at other Pennsylvania locations through December and into next year.
Early adopters! Two children enjoy the ‘bumpy’ mountain relief on the NSVC’s Earthwalk Explorer map.
In addition to coverage of the NSVC’s press conference announcing the map, a number of Explorer articles are now online, each describing aspects of the project.
Lehigh Valley Live
Times News TNonline
Johnstown Area Tribune-Democrat
Johnstown Heritage Discovery Center
Earthwalk Explorer’s Native American Trails Geoshow provides historical and cultural context to these still-existing passages.
Earthwalk Explorer is an 8’x16’ three-dimensional representation of the U.S. from North Carolina to
New Hampshire. It is 128 square feet and represents 761 miles horizontally, at a scale of 1”=3.88 miles. The visitor experiences a “feet to earth” exploration that takes them across the eastern United States. As they move, a series of projections reveal landcover, state borders, cities, parks, rivers, lakes, and cultural features. The accurate topography is rendered in resin/polyurethane. Whether following the spines of the Blue Ridge, Alleghenies, or Adirondacks, or the currents of the James, Susquehanna, or Hudson rivers, the visitor appreciates the landscape’s accurate and physical dimensions. Music and an inviting color palette complete the atmosphere – one designed to engender a spirit of wonder, fascination, and adventure.
Explorer can host individual museum visitors and groups of up to 12-15 students, teachers, parents and families. The experience is designed to meet no-hands-on, capacity-controlled and social distancing standards during the pandemic. Visitors remove their shoes to experience the topography by walking over it like benevolent giants putting feet to earth!
The project is supported by grants secured by Senator Pat Browne from the Commonwealth of PA, the
Counties of Northampton and Lehigh, Arts and Culture Relief from the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, the Dexter F. and Dorothy H. Baker Foundation, and the Minerva Foundation. NSVC’s Earthwalk Explorer was built in conjunction with the Northampton County Community College Fab Lab. Discover Lehigh Valley, The Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, Lehigh University’s Integrated Business and Engineering Program, Working Dog Press, HCSC and Seton Hall University have also provided support.
Introducing Earthwalk Explorer!
Today the National Scenic Visitors Center announced the launch of Earthwalk ExplorerSM in a press conference at the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, PA. The 3-dimensional Earthwalk Explorer map is the first in NSVC’s Walkable Maps of America series. This 16-foot long map showcases the eastern US from North Carolina to New Hampshire. Visitors explore hundreds of miles of terrain with each footstep. Earthwalk Explorer will premiere in the Lehigh Valley at the Da Vinci Science Center on May 20, 2021. Timed ticketing is available via the Da Vinci Science Center at davincisciencecenter.org.
Pennsylvania State Senator Pat Browne headlined the announcement, saying “The National Scenic Visitors Center has created a one-of-a-kind experience that invites children of all ages to come, explore and connect with the geography and history of our nation in ways never before imagined. Pennsylvania is living up to its reputation as the ‘Keystone State’, being the map’s central focus. The Da Vinci Science Center is the perfect venue to unveil the Earthwalk Explorer exhibit and it will make a welcomed addition to its other world-class exhibits.”
Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure highlighted the support provided by the County’s Department of Community and Economic Development, saying “Often the key to moving forward, making progress, is to take a step backwards in time. Understanding where we’ve been and the role our geography has played and plays in shaping who we were and are becoming is extremely important. That’s what Earthwalk Explorer means to me.”
Children take a close look at the physical relief terrain on Earthwalk Explorer
At the press conference, Lin Erickson, Executive Director and CEO of the Da Vinci Science Center, said “We are thrilled to host the unveiling of Earthwalk Explorer. The entire process of creating Earthwalk Explorer illustrates why Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) education is so important; from developing a superb understanding of the landscape and geography of the region to visually presenting a compelling story of human movements and achievements. We hope our visitors will enjoy the opportunity to take this unique educational journey.” According to Mary Ellen Snyder, co-founder of the NSVC, the organization’s vision is “to share the wonder of America’s diverse landscapes, instilling the passion to explore and the will to protect.”
Visitors to Earthwalk Explorer will experience projections of mountain ranges, forests, rivers and lakes, state borders, cities, trails, and cultural features. Putting their “feet to earth” they can trek across the spines of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Alleghenies, or Adirondacks, or follow the river valleys of the Susquehanna, James, or Hudson. They can touch the highest point in the state with their fingers or point out their home towns with their toes. The Explorer uses a horizontal scale of 1 inch = 3.88 miles and 3x vertical relief exaggeration.
Earthwalk Explorer features colorful Geoshows projected onto the map to tell stories that combine geography, history and culture, such as the two current Geoshows about the Native American presence in Pennsylvania. One focuses on the network of native trails that later formed the foundation of America’s modern highway network. The other animates the rich legacy of the Lenape and Susquehannock tribes, focusing on petroglyphs found throughout Pennsylvania. A replica of a famous petroglyph from the Delaware River illustrates a wide variety of these ancient engravings.
Families check out highways near New York on the Earthwalk Explorer map
Earthwalk Explorer is a “made in the Lehigh Valley” experience.” NSVC is a non-profit corporation established here in 2016. “The Lehigh Valley provided the resources and energy we needed to create the Earthwalk Explorer,” says Snyder. The creative team reached out to local consulting firm Cloud Mill, LLC, to develop the Geoshow narratives, and to the Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania to gain insight and advice. John Martin, Sacred Sites Director for the Lenape Nation of PA, spoke on the project saying “We worked closely with the NSVC team to share native perspectives, stories and voices. We hope that visitors will gain new understanding about the rich history of the Native Americans of this region, and a deeper respect and support for First Nations people and their sacred sites in the future.” Earthwalk Explorer was fabricated under the direction of Michael Bianco by a team from the Northampton Community College Fab Lab. The Fab Lab also designed the technology and did the narrative recording.
Earthwalk Explorer will travel to host museums throughout the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania and beyond. It is the first phase of NSVC’s ambitious three-phase plan.
Next, the NSVC will build Earthwalk Traveler, a 60 ft. long walkable map of the entire United States which will tour major museums nationwide.
Finally, the National Scenic Visitors Center will be built to house Earthwalk USA, a 100-yard-long walkable map of the entire country.
Duquesne University President and author Ken Gormley (member of NSVC’s Advisory Council) states, “The NSVC Earthwalk Explorer project is a triumph of creativity, allowing visitors young and old to learn the diverse geography and magnificent natural features of the USA through experiencing them. It’s a wonder that it’s taken so long for someone to invent it!” In speaking of the future, NSVC co-founder Matt Kambic shared, “When it is complete the National Scenic Visitors Center will be the nexus for an extraordinary shared national experience that reveals the geological diversity, fascinating history and diverse landscapes of the United States from a bold new perspective—the largest walkable relief map in the Universe.”
To book Earthwalk Explorer for your museum contact us at info@NSVC.us. Stop in at our website to hear about future touring dates and the latest news as we move to new phases of the Earthwalk experience.
NSVC gratefully acknowledges the support of the Commonwealth of PA, the Departments of Community Development in the Counties of Northampton and Lehigh, the Arts and Culture Relief Fund of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, the Dexter F. and Dorothy H. Baker Foundation, and the Minerva Foundation. Da Vinci Science Center, Discover Lehigh Valley, The Lenape Nation of Pennsylvania, Lehigh University’s Integrated Business and Engineering Program, Working Dog Press, HCSC, Hope Community Church and Seton Hall University have also provided support.
Pennsylvania sparkles beneath the arrowed socks of an Earthwalk Explorer explorer!
16 x 8 feet of bumpy, twisty, curly, uppish and downish landforms…
Take a look, dear map-lovers; craftily crafted by the FabLabbers of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (more precisely, Michael Bianco), we hereby introduce the first full-length version of our Walkable Relief Map series, the Earthwalk Explorer. (Technically, the photos are only showing the first molds and interim production pieces, but what the heck we say!)
Mr. Bianco looks over his latest masterpiece.
The map represents a section of the northeastern USA, from a bit of New Hampshire to a bit of North Carolina, centered around our beautiful home state of Pennsylvania. (Of course, we realize ALL of America’s states are beautiful, as our mission professes.)
As the nation continues to face the challenges of the pandemic, we see part of our charge as continuing apace, reminding ourselves that the rocks and trees and air and water remain our home– one we will steadfastly appreciate, steward, and walk upon with wonder and respect.
We look forward to sharing the National Scenic Visitors Center’s first truly experiential ‘product release’, coming to a planet near you in Autumn 2020 and throughout 2021. Get your feet ready.
We’re grateful to all who have contributed their time and financial support. (We’ll be covering more on the specifics of our development progression in future website posts.)
We would also add with special emphasis, that, from a project managerial standpoint, NSVC Executive Director Ms. Mary Ellen Snyder has almost single-handedly willed this momentous moment into being. There is plenty of assistance and helpful humans at the fringes of our map, but there is one party who has made this party rock, and that is Mary Ellen.
NSVC Imagine! video (click to view)
The National Scenic Visitors Center is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. We welcome your tax-deductible contributions!
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