By Abbey Olsen
BYU?s exhibition celebrating the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark?s expedition opened in the Harold B. Lee Library Thursday with a House of Learning lecture on the significance of the pair?s exploration.
?The exhibit helps people reflect upon what is important from the past, how it can help them with the present, as well as help answer the questions that we will face in the future,? said Jay Buckley, a history professor and speaker at the lecture in the HBLL auditorium.
Buckley is finishing a book on William Clark as an Indian agent, and another on Meriwether Lewis? controversial death. As the scholar-in-resident for the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation in 2004, Buckley delivered the keynote address at the Lewis and Clark Festival and also traveled throughout Montana giving lectures to various groups.
?Many people, including myself, find the Lewis and Clark story so fascinating because of its continual evolution, the ways in which it grows, adapts, and changes to an evolving American memory,? Buckley said. ?Their journey, sometimes called the ?American Odyssey,? has a tremendous influence because it serves as a benchmark for measuring the change and continuity of our nation?s history.?
Beginning in 1804, the expedition explored nearly twenty-eight months and traveled 8,000 miles through the territory of what is now 11 states, he said.
?There is more information about the Lewis and Clark expedition than even ?Jeopardy!? champion Ken Jennings could master,? Buckley said.
The Lewis and Clark exhibit took 18 months of planning and will run through June at the L. Tom Perry Special Collections. Buckley said they have tried to make the exhibit meaningful for everyone, from children to adults.
?Americans still have a love affair with exploration,? said Gordon Daines, co-curator of the exhibit.
Learning in school and exploring in space are ways we explore today, he said.
Daines said people often do not think about how these early explorers affected the LDS pioneer heritage. They mapped the way that later directed pioneer forebears on their trek, he said.
Visitors at the exhibit can walk through a circular, chronological exhibit of documents, maps and explanation panels of late 18th to mid-19th century exploration with a center display on Lewis and Clark.
The exhibit features explorers such as Father Escalante, Zebulon Pike, John Fremont and Howard Stansbury and events surrounding the Louisiana Purchase, the fur trade and the exploration of the Pacific Northwest. The exhibit also features animals including a grizzly bear, a cougar and an eagle from the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum.