Provo is a long way from Africa. The Monte L. Bean Museum, however, looks to make it feel a little closer.
A new exhibit called “Into Africa” opens for the public Aug. 1. The exhibit begins at 6 p.m. with several activities available to the public designed to give viewers a feel of what natural Africa is actually like.
The opening event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. beginning with live animal shows running from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. All viewers are given the chance to identify animals using a new iPhone application available for download. Photos are allowed to be taken in front of the baboons. Crafts will be offered in room 310 throughout the night.
Patty Jones, from the Department of Life Sciences, said the opening event will offer fun activities and a special opportunity for students and locals.
“We have a lot of activities going on during this exhibit opening,” Jones said. “It is an opportunity for families to have a special and fun Family Home Evening together.”
Randy Baker, graphics designer of the exhibit, said the main exhibit is unique to the museum and focuses on the different biospheres of Africa.
“It is something that we have never done before,” Baker said. “We’ve incorporated in a mural of three different biospheres in Africa: the jungle, the savannah and the wetlands.”
The exhibit has a scenic oil-painted background wall depicting various natural settings in Africa. A large revolving exhibit of a lion catching a gazelle highlights the main room. Several unique animal exhibits show a side of Africa not well known to the public, Baker said. It gives a visual of the interrelationships of different animals living in the same atmosphere but not competing for the same food.
Baker said the different animals within the African atmosphere often help each other out for food.
“An unusual animal, the honey badger, follows the instincts of the honey bird to find honey,” Baker said. “Once the honey bird finds honey it waits for the honey badger to knock down the honey hive and then the badger eats and gives the honey bee what’s left over.”
This honey badger story is one of many unique sides of the African exhibit, Baker said. Another side of the exhibit is called “Man’s interactions with nature,” showing the relationship between African people and animals.
The Bean Museum is one of the best secrets of BYU, Baker said, adding some students are not aware of what the museum offers and are missing out on fun activities. Many Provo locals have discovered the museum and attend regularly with their children and grandchildren.
Marty McCoy, a local resident, lives close to the museum and said his three grandchildren love to visit.
“They come to see the wonderful exhibits,” McCoy said. “It has outstanding exhibits, everything from beetles to elephants.”
The Bean Museum is located just east of the Marriott Center. For more information visit mlbean.byu.edu.