HUDSON -- Spread throughout the rooms of The Phipps gallery is 50 years of history and nature.
Belwin Conservancy is celebrating its golden anniversary with an exhibit in The Phipps galleries that combines paintings, music, video and historic documents to bring the organization’s work to life.
Belwin wanted to mark its anniversary by showcasing its many partnerships, including with The Phipps, Belwin Program Director Susan Haugh said.
“We are engaged with working for artists and working with artists on the land to highlight the beauty of the St. Croix Valley and the love of nature and the importance of healthy habitats for all species, for the future of all species,” she said.
Nature and art make for a natural connection, so it's natural that Belwin works with art and artists to show what it’s doing and what’s special. All art starts in nature, Haugh said.
“The natural world is art, it’s color, it’s taste, it’s feel, it’s smell,” she said. “So everything comes out of our relationship with nature.”
The exhibit highlights the conservancy’s various partnerships with schools, science programs and even sports, with the Lucy Winton Bell Athletic Fields. The bison program, a partnership with Northstar Bison, is another main connection each year.
“We have learned so much from the bison about prairie restoration,” Haugh said.
Music in the Trees, another partnership, is also featured with a video of the event. That portion of exhibit also gives guests a view of Belwin Conservancy across the river and over the bridge.
Haugh appreciates the map displays, that go back to 1938, showcasing the history of Belwin and the wider St. Croix Watershed area. The maps show how quickly the fertile land, that took thousands of years to develop, was then depleted.
“So we’re learning from it, we’re going to move forward, that’s what I think Belwin does really well,” Haugh said.
The gallery closes with a look at the future of Belwin.
“We want to extend and include more community members at Belwin,” Haugh said.
A new wetlands building, a model of which is displayed in the exhibit, is one piece of that. It will include partnerships with children with special needs and as older learners and those with dementia.
Haugh hopes the exhibit shows people all the different ways they can engage with the land.
“I hope that they take away a little bit about the beauty of the land that we live in in the St. Croix Valley and also that it sets off their imagination of possibilities,” she said.
That engagement doesn’t always have to happen at Belwin either, Haugh said.
“I hope it ignited people’s imaginations of how they can be involved in the environment and the world around them,” she said.
If the exhibit sparks that desire to get involved, Haugh said people can do so by visiting the site, taking advantage of its hikes or visitings its website belwin.org.
The exhibit is on display through Feb. 21. A virtual tour is also available at thephipps.org.
Belwin Conservancy is located at 1553 Stagecoach Trail S., Afton, Minn.