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Beyond Granite: The Geology of Adventure

About this exhibition

Museum Exhibition Dates: March 25, 2014 – March 8, 2015

Exhibition Locations: Museum of the White Mountains, Main Gallery

Online Exhibition: View here

Exhibition Film: View here

Exhibition Part I: To the Extremes

Exhibition Press Release: Read here

Standards-based STEM Curriculum Packets: Elementary School (pdf), Middle School (pdf), High School (pdf)

Exhibition catalog: Read here (pdf)

The Beyond Granite exhibition explores the geological underpinnings of three of the most popular forms of recreation in the White Mountains: climbing, hiking, and skiing/snowboarding. We investigate the fundamental Earth processes that have shaped these mountains we love, and we make the connections between the stories of our outdoor pursuits and the stories of the land itself.

Franconia Ridge, Composite of 468 digital images, Jim Surette, photographer; Click to enlarge

Focus Areas:

I.   Climbers and Bedrock: The history of rock climbing in the White Mountains and the influence of different rock types on climbing styles and progressions.

II.  Hiking Ancient Mountains: The story of the 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail that passes through the heart of the White Mountains.

III. Adventures Shaped by Climate: How climate has shaped the winter landscape of the White Mountains and how it will likely dictate our experiences in the future.

Special Explorations:

Through the Eyes of the Observer: Using gigapixel photographic technology, explore three iconic locations in the White Mountains viewed through the eyes of geologists and adventurers alike: Cannon Cliff, Franconia Ridge, and Mt. Washington’s Tuckerman and Huntington ravines. This interactive exhibit features a computer touchscreen for exploring annotated digital photographs via a deep zooming interface.

Maps and Gear: The tools of the trade of geologists, hikers, climbers, skiers and snowboarders. Investigate how maps and equipment have changed through time, and how these changes have influenced the experience of adventure. Interactive components include a display of how rock climbing protective gear fits into granite.

Rocks and Minerals of the White Mountains: An interactive display of the principal rock types in the White Mountains, plus a collection of fine mineral specimens from this region.


Project Director:

Catherine Amidon, director, Museum of the White Mountains


Sarah Garlick, independent science writer and educator


Dykstra Eusden (Bates College)

Brian Fowler (Mount Washington Observatory)

Woodrow Thompson (Maine Geological Survey)

P. Thom Davis (Bentley University)

Geoff Wilson (Hubbard Brook Research Foundation)

Audio-Visual and Gigapan:

Jim Surette, Granite Films