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February 20, 2008

New Photography Exhibit Spotlights the Devastating Impact of Global Warming on Polar Bears

The Last Polar Bear: Facing the Truth of a Warming World, Burke Museum, June 28 - Dec. 31, 2008

Seattle -- The polar bear may soon face extinction as its Arctic habitat rapidly melts away. Opening June 28, 2008, the Burke Museum presents a stunning new environmental photography exhibit, The Last Polar Bear: Facing the Truth of a Warming World,bringing to life the devastating urgency of global warming’s impact on the Arctic as documented by the dramatic polar bear images by accomplished wildlife photographer Steven Kazlowski.

Kazlowski has dedicated the past eight years to tracking and photographing polar bears in their rarely visited and seldom photographed natural environment, documenting the change in their habitat and behavior over time. InThe Last Polar Bear, 40 large-format color photographs reveal the plight of the polar bear as it faces rapid change in its Arctic coastal habitat from Hershel Island in Canada to Point Hope, Alaska. Through the exhibit “visitors will learn how the changes brought about through global warming are affecting polar bears, humans, and other species that share this challenging Arctic environment,” says Burke Museum Associate Director Erin Younger.

Visitors to the exhibit will follow the path of these alpha-predators, learning about the unique biology of the polar bear and the Arctic web of life to which they belong. Intimate images portray the bears’ annual cycle of life from mothers with cubs to adolescents at play to adults on the hunt. An interactive, hands-on study area allows families to further explore the scientific concepts behind polar bear science and global warming and find more information about what we can do to help make a difference.

To supplement Kazlowski’s photography, the Burke will present film footage and recorded sounds of polar bears documented over three years by filmmaker Arthur C. Smith, III, a regional artist who specializes in filming polar bears in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.His footage has been used by National Geographic, the Discovery Channel, and was included in the 2007 documentary Arctic Tale.

The Last Polar Bear: Facing the Truth of a Warming World was organized by the Burke Museum and Braided River, a conservation imprint of The Mountaineers Books. The exhibit is based on the companion book of the same title, published by Braided River, featuring essays by noted conservationists and photography by Steven Kazlowski. Kazlowski's work has also been featured inAudubon, Backpacking, Canadian National Geographic, National Wildlife, and Time magazines.

The Burke Museum engages the public in conversations about the environment, both regionally and globally, through nature photography exhibits that visually reflect the urgent, changing realities of our natural world. In September 2008, in partnership with The Mountaineers Books, the Burke will open a companion photography exhibit that explores biodiversity in the Arctic ecosystem, Arctic Wings: Birds of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Both conservation exhibits will travel to other museums throughout the U.S. and Canada after their Burke Museum premiers.

Major support for The Last Polar Bear has been provided by Tom and Sonya Campion, Hugh and Jane Ferguson Foundation, and Peach Foundation. Additional support has been provided by The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and The Norcliffe Foundation.

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