New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


Did you know NJ Stage offers FREE Event Listings? Nearly 100,000 listings were viewed in January. Be sure to add your events to our calendar and get your shows noticed!

Fossils And Boomers At Morris Museum

By Brent Johnson, JerseyArts.com

originally published: 08/16/2018

Fossils And Boomers At Morris Museum

You won’t find many places where Billy Joel and Erin Brokovich rub shoulders with ancient shark teeth and fossilized raindrops.

But such is life — for at least the next few weeks — at the Morris Museum in Morristown, where you can take two very different trips through American history in two separate exhibits.

The first is “The Boomer List,” a traveling show featuring photos of and interviews with 19 iconic and important Baby Boomers, the generation that shaped the second half of the 20th century.

The second is “What Came Before US,” a collection of fossils from all 50 states that examines what life looked like in the U.S. many years before that. Millions upon millions of years, to be exact — before any humans at all showed up.

The latter exhibit holds a special place at the museum in the Morris County hills. Many of the fossils are part of an extensive collection that its curators don’t often get to show the public.

Anne Motto, the museum’s assistant curator, says the prehistoric items help show “the many different faces our country has gone through over the course of its life.”

“Our history is so much broader and deeper than what we think of it,” Motto explains. “We know our human history, but there’s millions of years that we sometimes don’t think about because there is no written record. So you are looking at fossils and using science to understand what has happened before.”

“What Came Before US” — which runs through Sept. 23 — breaks up the U.S. into four different regions, and presents at least one fossil from each state.

Many of the pieces were already in the downstairs storage of the museum’s geology department, since the dinosaur exhibit on the top floor includes only a sliver of the facility’s fossil collection.

“This is just a tiny segment of all the ones we have in our collection,” says Motto, who was born and raised in Randolph. “It was refining our list down from thousands to about 120 that we finally used.”

Still, the curators had so many fossils on hand, they almost had all 50 states represented.

Fossils And Boomers At Morris Museum

“When we were looking through the list of all the fossils (we had), I started seeing state name after state name after state name coming up,” Motto recalls. “We got very, very close on our own.”

They reached out to collectors to fill in the gaps.

The exhibit’s main case features a trove of discoveries found in New Jersey — shark teeth, whale vertebrae, amber from Sayreville, fossilized raindrops and ripples from Livingston.

In the surrounding displays, you’ll find a dinosaur footprint of an anchisauripus from Connecticut. Petrified wood from Arizona. A bison horn from Alaska. A mammoth tooth from Texas. Ancient fish from Wyoming.

And the massive tooth of a megalodon from Georgia. (Fittingly, the exhibit is open at the same time as “The Meg,” a summer blockbuster about a megalodon in modern times, terrorizing the ocean.)

The exhibit’s oldest fossil is from New York — a 500 million-year-old stromatolite. A stromatolite is an impression left behind by cyanobacteria, “which, through photosynthesis, releases oxygen into the atmosphere and allows oxygen-breathing life to form,” Motto explains.

“It’s one of the oldest in our collection,” she says. “And it’s actually a pretty significant fossil. All things considered, it’s probably the most important one in the exhibit.”

“Without the cyanobacteria that made the fossil,” Motto adds, “there wouldn’t have been oxygen in the atmosphere for there to be us today.”

Overall, Motto says, what you’ll find is that the exhibit tells “many different stories.”

An array of fossils in boxes“Today we have mountains, streams, forests. We have all these different types of animal species and plant species,” she says. “But that’s a single moment in time. These fossils are showing you millions upon millions of years of millions of moments in time.”

For example, one story the exhibit tells: The Midwest was once covered in water.

“You are going to find lots of marine fossils out in the Midwest,” she explains. “Out in South Dakota, Kentucky, states that are thousands of miles away from the ocean. That doesn’t make sense in the context of modern-day Midwest. But when you learn it used to be covered by a shallow sea, suddenly the U.S. has a completely different face, and the fossils are now in context.”

The exhibit also includes fossils from two places where fossils are rare: Hawaii and New Hampshire.

“We were able to turn that into a story,” Motto says.

The story goes: The island of Hawaii started forming only about five million years ago. Volcanos form igneous rock, and fossils need sedimentary rock to exist.

“There are fossils in Hawaii. They’re just not common,” Motto says. “And you’re certainly not going to find a dinosaur there.”

So what about New Hampshire? That’s the Granite State, Motto explains.

“It is pretty much covered in granite,” she says. “They have some fossils, but it’s very rare to find them.”

Again, you need sedimentary rock to find fossils.

Motto hopes visitors come away realizing that for all the focus on dinosaur fossils around the world, discoveries within the U.S. “are so varied and exciting on their own without having to look outside our borders, and there is so much to learn from them.”

“And we will never be done learning from them,” she continues. “As much as those fossils are absolutely ancient, the science of studying them can be very recent, very modern, very cutting-edge.”

Fossils And Boomers At Morris Museum

Down the hall, you’ll find a much newer era. There lies the “The Boomer List,” a touring exhibit on loan from the Newseum in Washington, D.C., put on in collaboration with AARP. This is its only stop in New Jersey.

The exhibit — which runs through Sept. 9 — features portraits that award-winning photographer and filmmaker Timothy Greenfield-Sanders took of 19 notable figures from the Baby Boomer generation. Boomers are those born between 1946, the year after end of World War II, and 1964, the year The Beatles arrived in America.

Greenfield-Sanders chose one from each year of that timespan, from different professions and of different genders and races. All of them are photographed in “simple, direct-to-camera portraits, with a basic backdrop, and one single light,” he explains.

“It’s a very broad range of people and of years and of experiences,” Greenfield-Sanders says in a video accompanying the photos. “If you were born in ’46, ’47, those early years, you ended up in Vietnam. If you were born in the late ’50s and early ’60s, punk rock was an issue for you.”

“I like the idea that this could be a way to show the achievements of a generation,” the photographer continues. “The selection is very much like a Rubix Cube.”

The subjects stretch from author Tim O’Brien (born 1946) to actor John Leguizamo (1964) — the latter of whom is pictured without his pants on.

Each photo is accompanied by an interview with that figure, explaining what that era meant to them. Actor Samuel L. Jackson (1948) discusses race.

“Everything that I’ve gone through informs me and my opinions in a way, because I am a child of segregation,” Jackson says. “I lived through it. I lived in it. I was of it.”

Rock star Billy Joel (1949) recalls discovering The Beatles. “They didn’t look like movie stars, and they were from Liverpool, which is an even worse-sounding name than Hicksville,” he remembers. “My path was clear. And I hooked up with a band.”

Fossils And Boomers At Morris Museum

Former astronaut Ellen Ochoa (1958) talks about breaking gender stereotypes — in space. “One of the things that changed during my life was I didn’t feel that I was limited, that I had to make choices,” says Ochoa, who is now director of the Johnson Space Center.

Also pictured are actress Kim Cattrall (1956), football legend Ronnie Lott (1959), environmental activist Erin Brockovich (1960) and AIDS activist Peter Staley (1961), among others.

Along the walls is a timeline showing all the Boomers have witnessed: the Cold War, Jonas Salk’s polo vaccine, transistor radios, TV dinners, Elvis, the space race, JFK’s death, Vietnam, Watergate, “Star Wars,” personal computers.

And in one corner is a display where you can press a button and smell the scents that helped define the generation: baby powder, representing how more than 76 million babies were born in that time; fresh-cut grass, representing how many Americans relocated to the suburbs then; and incense, representing the era of Woodstock and “flower power.”

Alexandra Willis, the Morris Museum’s main curator, says they were happy to welcome the exhibit because it’s one “we felt audiences of all ages could connect and engage with.”

“The ‘Boomer’ generation has had and continues to have a profound impact on the world in areas of sciences, technology, art, and music,” Willis explains. “With a history and legacy still being written, the photography of Timothy Greenfield-Sanders provides a revealing look at the evolving stories of 19 ‘Boomers’ who are relevant to all of us, in one way or another.”




About the author: Brent Johnson is a pop-culture-obsessed writer from East Brunswick, N.J. He's currently a reporter for The Star-Ledger of Newark. Before that, he was a longtime entertainment and music columnist for The Trenton Times. His work has also been published by Rolling Stone, Sports Illustrated On Campus and Night & Day Magazine. His favorite musical artists: Elvis Costello, Billy Joel, The Smiths, Roxy Music, Dave Matthews Band, The Beatles, Blur, Squeeze, The Kinks. When he's not writing, Brent is the lead singer in alt-rock band The Clydes

Content provided by Discover Jersey Arts, a project of the ArtPride New Jersey Foundation and New Jersey State Council on the Arts.






Rider University Art Gallery presents Mel Leipzig: Octogenarian
(LAWRENCEVILLE, NJ) -- The Rider University Art Gallery will present an exhibit of works by Mel Leipzig, titled Mel Leipzig: Octogenarian Wednesday September 26 through Friday, October 26.  Leipzig, born in Brooklyn in 1935, resides in Trenton, NJ.
Monroe Township Presents Artrageous
(MONROE TOWNSHIP, NJ) -- The Monroe Township High School Performing Arts Center presents Artrageous on Sunday, November 11th at 4:00pm. Artrageous is a unique interactive arts performance that incorporates many different art forms on the same stage. The audience experiences live speed painting art, music, dance, and life-sized puppetry.  
"Trumpets, Weird and Wonderful" opens at the Morris Museum October 7
(MORRISTOWN, NJ) -- The Morris Museum in partnership with the National Music Museum (Vermillion, South Dakota) presents the exhibit Trumpets, Weird and Wonderful: Treasures from the National Music Museum — 44 fascinating instruments from five continents, on view at the Morris Museum from October 7 to March 17, 2019. Dating from the late 17th to the late 20th centuries, the instruments are on loan from the National Music Museum’s Joe R. and Joella F. Utley Collection of Brass Instruments, and most of them have never been on public exhibit.
JCTC's Connection Series Explores How We Do & Don’t Connect in Today’s World
(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- Technology connects people all over the world, yet why do we so often seem disconnected to our communities, families and each other? Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) launches its 2018/2019 season with Connection, a series of visual arts, theater, dance and readings that explores the truly modern conflict of pervasive isolation in an era of hyper-communication.
GlassRoots Honors The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey & Laureen Meehan at Annual Gala
​(NEWARK, NJ) -- GlassRoots announced that its annual Gala and Auction, this year entitled Glowing + Growing will be held on October 18, 2018, and will celebrate the nonprofit's 17 years of impact by paying tribute to the deep connections among organizations invested in arts education by honoring Horizon Foundation for New Jersey and Lauren Meehan of the Newark Arts Education Roundtable.


Basking Ridge Resident Returns to Matheny to Help Assist in Strategic Planning for 'This Amazing Place'
When Ellen Lambert was director of development at the Matheny School and Hospital in Peapack, NJ, from 1993 to 1995, one of her major achievements was the formation of a fundraising plan for what would eventually become the Robert Schonhorn Arts Center. The concept of Matheny's Arts Access Program  -- which enables people with disabilities to create art, assisted by professional artist-facilitators  -- was emerging in '93, and the arts center was eventually built in 2000.
City Without Walls and Aljira To Shine At Newark Arts Festival
Two long-running art spaces, City Without Walls (“cWOW”) and Aljira, A Center for Contemporary Art (“Aljira”), will house pop-up exhibits during the Newark Arts Festival, October 4-7, 2018.  Though both spaces are now in a period of transition, through the support of Newark Arts, they will activate with fresh exhibits during Newark’s citywide annual festival of the arts. 
The Healing Power of Art
Entering the office to see a neurologist can be a terrifying experience.  I know because I’ve had to do it for years.  Thankfully, when I see my doctor I am surrounded by his photographs on the walls. It’s more than a hobby for Dr. Noah Gilson, it’s a lifelong passion.
What Is The Artist’s Role In Gentrification?
About a year ago, I attended a local community meeting here in Newark for citizens concerned about the changing face of the city. You see, Brick City, after 50 years of neglect, economic disenfranchisement, and disproportionate criticism fueled by racism, xenophobia and class discrimination, is going through a revitalization. Or a “renaissance” if you’re the poetic type.
Fossils And Boomers At Morris Museum
You won’t find many places where Billy Joel and Erin Brokovich rub shoulders with ancient shark teeth and fossilized raindrops. But such is life — for at least the next few weeks — at the Morris Museum in Morristown, where you can take two very different trips through American history in two separate exhibits.






Event calendar
Tuesday, Sep 25, 2018


MUSIC

Cafe Tacvba with special guest Ruen Brothers – Niu Gueis Tour 2018 @ Prudential Hall @ New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), Newark - 8:00pm

Seuls en Scene French Theater Festival - "Gonzo Conference" @ Donald G. Drapkin Studio at Lewis Arts complex, Princeton - 8:00pm

Joan Baez @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 8:00pm

Record Club: Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon @ Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University, West Long Branch - 7:30pm


KIDS

West End Festival of the Arts- Children's Storytelling @ West End Arts Center, Long Branch - 4:00pm

View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.