APU Hosts a Centennial Remembrance: An Exhibit on John Muir

by Camille Garcia '15

"Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature's sources never fail."
John Muir, Our National Parks

Through December 15, APU’s Special Collections presents “John Muir: A Centennial Remembrance, 1914–2014,” an exhibit celebrating the beloved American naturalist, author, and conservationist.

Ten glass cases decorate the Darling Library Rotunda on West Campus, each featuring a theme based on a quote from one of Muir’s 12 books and more than 300 published magazine articles. Passersby can stop and examine signed first–edition books by Muir, letters to his loved ones, photographs of him in the wilderness, and letters from his daughter, Helen, written before his death. Small artifacts add another dimension to the display, including a carved seal toy he bought in Alaska for his daughters.

Curators Tom Andrews and Luba Zakharov organized the exhibit with Dennis Kruska, a bibliographer and collector of Muir’s work. Andrews and Zakharov interspersed Muir ‘s letters from APU’s Special Collections the exhibit.

“Exhibits provide students with the opportunity to see something outside of the classroom,” said Andrews. “It enlivens interest and presents new information from the original source.”

Andrews and Kruska began coordinating the exhibit in August 2013 and finalized the idea last April, deciding on the theme of Muir’s ability to find God in the wilderness and in nature.

As a naturalist, Muir spent the majority of his life in the High Sierras and Alaskan glaciers. After his adventures, Muir wrote descriptive books and articles about his experiences, sharing the importance of conserving these natural regions in the United States.

Founder of the Sierra Club, Muir’s work contributed to the protection of these resources, such as Yosemite and Sequoia National Park. More than 60 locations in California, including schools, parks, and city streets attest to his enduring legacy and bear his name. The state also honored him by placing his image on the quarter. Muir’s work is especially significant within the APU community because of the university’s connection with the High Sierras.

“APU’s Walkabout program and High Sierra Semester teach students how to live in the wilderness and allow nature to be a window into the glory of God. Like Muir, APU’s community draws great inspiration from the beauty of God’s creation,” said Zakharov.

In partnership with the Department of English, University Libraries Special Collections invites all students to submit an essay for entry into the John Muir Favorite Quote Writing Contest. The students must select 1 quote from the 10 featured in the exhibit. Winners of the $40 and $20 cash prizes will be announced on December 5. The deadline to enter is November 25 and entries should be emailed to lzakharov@apu.edu