The Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation Supports MIT Museums’s Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya

Exhibition features extraordinary photography of mountaineer David Breashears… and a unique installation showcasing Monaco’s remarkable environmental legacy

The MIT Museum will open Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya featuring the breath-taking photography of mountaineer and film maker David Breashears on April 13, 2012 (through March 17, 2013), with the support of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation.
At the heart of Rivers of Ice – a collaboration between the MIT Museum, GlacierWorks, and the Asia Society, designed by ThincDesign, — are contemporary, state-of-the-art digital photographs taken by Breashears from the same vantage points as archival photos taken a century ago. Presented in large format and viewed alongside much older images — some taken from 19th-century glass-plate negatives — these high-resolution images make plain the threat posed to Himalayan glaciers. Formed by the collision of continents, the massive Himalayan mountain range is of profound historic, cultural and scientific significance. By experiencing the photography ‘in the round’ on a large scale and viewing artifacts from expeditions past and present, visitors will gain a deeper understanding of the beauty of these glacial mountains, and their significance to the water cycle that sustains lives.

Rivers of Ice provides visitors with a realistic, tangible understanding of the devastating consequences of climate change. Through painstaking attention to detail by comparing century-old archival images with David Breashears’s stunning contemporary photographs taken from the same position and in the same season, this spectacular exhibition unmistakably documents the decline of the Himalayan glaciers that are the water reservoirs for something like 4 billion people,” said J.B. Kelly, President of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation-USA.

In an uncanny parallel, at the turn of the last century Monaco’s Prince Albert I, photographed and documented the glaciers of the north polar regions, and 100 years later in 2006, his great-great grandson, Monaco’s current sovereign, Prince Albert II produced comparative research and photography during an expedition retracing his forebear’s footsteps.

To complement the Rivers of Ice exhibition, a unique cylindrical installation featuring a documentary-style broadcast juxtaposing both expeditions, followed by an up-to-date look at the global work of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation, will be on view on the second floor of the MIT Museum through April 30, 2012.

The installation, an internally-lit 8ftx5ft cylinder (output is equal to just one 100W light bulb), blends creativity, cutting-edge design and energy efficiency. By combining AV techniques, architectural elements, graphic design, and an animated kaleidoscopic experience from the Hollywood-based special effects team who worked on “The Incredible Hulk” and “Spider-Man”, it seamlessly projects a cool image of a hot topic.

Historic footage chronologically recounts Monaco’s sovereigns from the first Prince Albert (the “Navigator Prince”) who sailed the oceans in the late 1800s and early 1900s seeking ways to preserve them, through to Prince Rainier III who guided the principality through remarkable economic and cultural change in the 20th century, up to today with his son, Prince Albert II who upholds Monaco’s preservation efforts and conservation stewardship through his foundation. The installation also details three North American projects supported by the Foundation by highlighting the three main areas of its focus and mission:

  • Biodiversity: Strengthening conservation gains across the Solomon Islands – a partnership with The American Museum of Natural History in New York;
  • Climate change: Establishing new conservation landscapes in Amazonian Peru – a partnership with The Field Museum in Chicago; and
  • Water resource management: Water for the people in the tropics of Honduras – a partnership with One Drop of Canada

Commissioned by Maguy Maccario, Monaco’s consul general in New York and vice president of the Foundation’s US chapter, she said that Monaco has an illustrious record of environmental stewardship dating back more than a century to the first Prince Albert and encompassing the reign of Prince Rainier.

“Today Prince Albert has enhanced and extended that distinguished legacy with the establishment of his Foundation — with its huge international reach — and by implementing many sound conservation initiatives within the principality,” said Maccario.

“We have a special cross-cultural and educational affinity with MIT with the recent (2009) visit to the MIT campus by His Serene Highness Prince Albert and the subsequent hosting in Monaco in October 2010 of the Futurum/MIT Energy Initiative under His patronage, as well as the world premiere at the Monte-Carlo Opera House of the MIT Media Lab’s Death & The Powers opera by Professor Tod Machover.”

“This exhibition and related events which are proudly supported by the Consulate General of Monaco in New York, provides yet more welcome opportunities to advance our friendship and deepen our ties while collaborating on the vital topic of mutual interest, environmental conservation and education,” she said.

The exhibition, a related symposium being organized by the Cambridge Science Festival (through April 20-29) and other events throughout 2012, will provide insight to some of the most groundbreaking environmental research currently taking place, and offer the public the opportunity to engage with scientists and researchers.

Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya, which opens April 13, 2012, has been funded in part by the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation and the Farvue Foundation. The MIT Museum is open daily from 10:00am – 5:00pm (closed on major holidays). Admission: Adults: $8.50; under 18, students and seniors: $4.00. MIT ID and children under 5: Free admission.

Sundays (10:00am-Noon) and second Fridays of each month (5:00pm-8:00pm): Free admission.

Photos of the exhibition for press may be found at:

About the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation

Launched in 2006, the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation focuses on three major environmental challenges: climate change and renewable energies; biodiversity; and water resource management. The Foundation is dedicated to the protection of the environment and the promotion of sustainable development on a global scale and supports initiatives of public and private organizations in the fields of research and studies, technological innovation and socially-aware practices. The Foundation — with chapters in France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada — has allocated grants totaling more than $US23 million to 185+ projects around the world, specifically in the Mediterranean Basin, the Poles, and in the Least Developed Countries.

About the M.I.T. Museum
Robots, holography, MIT history, and cutting-edge exhibitions blending art and technology draw visitors from around the world to the MIT Museum. Located in the center of Cambridge, MA the MIT Museum features some of the latest MIT research, the history of artificial intelligence at MIT, holograms from the Museum’s collections, and regular demonstrations by MIT researchers and inventors in addition to changing exhibitions. The mission of the MIT Museum is to engage the wider community with MIT’s science, technology and other areas of scholarship in ways that will best serve the nation and the world in the 21st century.

Photo: In 2005, Prince Albert compares a 100 year-old photograph taken during his great-great grandfather’s expedition to Spitzberg in the North Polar region

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