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Traveling Exhibits Service

Elwha: A River Reborn

[The Elwha] Restoration project is a testament to what can happen when diverse groups find a way to work together and achieve shared goals of restoration for a river, a people, an ecosystem, and a national park.
—Jan Jarvis, National Park Service Director.

On the Elwha River in northwest Washington State, one of the most ambitious restoration projects ever attempted is under way, and the world is watching to see what happens.

For thousands of years, the Elwha River flowed free, from the Olympic Mountains, through lush rainforests, to the sea, supporting abundant wildlife along the way—including all five species of Pacific salmon. The Elwha’s legendary fishery was central to the culture of the Klallam people, the region’s Native American residents.

All this changed in the early 1900s, when two hydroelectric dams were built on the river. Cheap electricity fueled an economic boom for the town at the river’s mouth, but it came at a devastating cost to the ecosystem and Klallam culture. Despite existing laws, the dams were built without fish passage, preventing the salmon from returning to spawn.

Today, the Elwha is legendary again, for a very different reason. Following years of controversy, the dams have been removed, and an unprecedented restoration effort has begun. Scientists are studying every aspect of the ecosystem to see how it responds to the change. What they learn will inform environmental decisions across the country, for decades to come.

Elwha: A River Reborn takes audiences on an epic journey, from the Elwha region as it once was, to the pioneer city that built and embraced the dams, through the decades-long effort to remove them, to the remarkable restoration now taking hold. It is a story of historical, cultural, and environmental change that is both unique to its Northwest setting and increasingly familiar to many American cities. Elwha: A River Reborn will resonate with communities around the country that are wondering how once-exploited environments can be rethought and reborn.

Elwha: A River Reborn is based on a book of the same title by Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes and photographer Steve Ringman. The exhibit was developed by the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in collaboration with The Seattle Times, Mountaineers Books, and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.

Companion book: a full-color, 171-page companion book by Seattle Times reporter Lynda Mapes and photographer Steve Ringman is available for purchase from the Mountaineers Books.

Itinerary and Availability Information

Exhibit Specifications:


23 framed photographic prints, Introductory banner, 9 graphic text banners; large-scale Elwha River watershed map banner, 5 focus panels, Mapes & Ringman biographies panel, 5 large-scale photo banners, Elwha timeline panel, a seeds sampler display, and 3 exhibit DVD presentations.

Participation Fee

$3,750 for a 12-week booking plus the cost of inbound shipping

Exhibit Support

Educational resources, publicity kit, and exhibit technical manual sent in advance of receiving the show


Approx. 1,500 square feet [200 running feet]


4 est.


850 pounds, est.




Inbound – Note: Additional shipping and/or custom fees apply for venues in Alaska and Canada.

Tour Begins

September 2014

Elwha Chinook return for their fall run to their hereditary spawning grounds, only to be blocked by Elwha Dam just 5 miles from the river mouth. Even after a century of futility the fish never stopped trying to come home.
Photo by Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times.
Once regarded as unthinkable, “Free the Elwha” became a rallying cry for a generation of activists determined to take out the dams.
Photo by Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times.
Elwha dam removal is more than a fish story. It is an ecosystem-wide restoration, affecting the entire watershed, including 800 acres of home range habitat inundated by dam floodwaters that have been returned to elk and other wildlife.
Photo by Steve Ringman/The Seattle Times.

Exhibit Support and Registrarial Requirements

As a host of Elwha: A River Reborn, you will receive the following:

  • Complete registrarial information
  • Complete shipping, handling, and installation instructions
  • Public relations support in the form of digital press releases, images, and logos; digital graphic templates of promotional materials; and advice on promoting the show
  • Educational resources

Registrarial Requirements

Elwha has been designated Moderate security.


  • Venues must have a limited-access gallery of sufficient area and wall space to accommodate the exhibition. An open mall, hallway, or lounge area is not acceptable.
  • Smoking, eating, and drinking are prohibited in the exhibition area, exhibitor receiving, and staging spaces.
  • No part of the exhibition may be stored, crated, or moved off the premises without prior authorization from the Burke Museum. Empty crates for all exhibit contents must be stored in secured, pest-free, and fire-protected storage.


  • Trained professional guards and/or personnel must be present in sufficient numbers to protect the exhibition adequately throughout the time it is on site (during truck off-loading, unpacking, installation, deinstallation, repacking, and truck loading) and on view.
  • The exhibition area must be locked and secured during closed hours. Alarms and/or guards during closed hours are preferred but not required.
  • Functioning fire-prevention systems and other fire-protection devices that meet local ordinances must be available in the exhibition, staging, and storage spaces.

Environmental Controls

  • The exhibition, staging, and storage areas should have a temperature range of 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit and a humidity range of 40-60% relative humidity, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Venues without an HVAC system may provide climate data that reports consistent environmental conditions.
  • The venue should have environmental recording equipment (hygrothermographs or dataloggers) in the exhibition, staging, and storage areas. A member of the collections management or registration staff should make routine checks of the exhibition.
  • There must be no direct sunlight in the exhibition, staging, or storage areas. It should be diffused or eliminated. Light levels must be limited to 20 foot-candles. Light must be filtered for UV.

Exhibition Care

  • Handling of all exhibit contents during unpacking, installation, deinstallation, and repacking must be done by curatorial, registrarial, or by other trained and experienced museum professionals.
  • The exhibition may contain crates weighing up to 400 pounds. Venues will need to have the facility and staff or the ability to hire skilled personnel for receiving, moving, and handling the crates.
  • The exhibition contents must be left in their crates for 24 hours before unpacking.

For more information, please contact:
Mark R. Hand
Traveling Exhibits Coordinator
Phone: 206-616-0268
E-mail: mrhand@u.washington.edu