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Nineteenth Century artifacts unearthed by New Jersey Department of Transportation projects in New Brunswick and Trenton will be on public display for the first time as part of an exhibition, Ebb and Flow: New Jersey and Its Rivers, which opens on January 26, 2006, at The New Jersey Historical Society, 52 Park Place, Newark. These artifacts and others, along with a walkable map, will illustrate how New Jersey’s rivers were both pathways and impediments to the state’s settlement and economic development.

The public is invited to a reception marking the opening, which will be held from 5 to 8 p.m.

Visitors to the interactive exhibition can explore four New Jersey rivers – the Delaware, Maurice, Passaic and Raritan -- and discover how New Jerseyans harvested the resources, built transportation networks, made a living, settled along these waterways, set up industries and addressed conflicts over how its rivers are used.

From the days when the Lenape, the state’s earliest residents, used net sinkers for fishing in clear waters, through to the present when current debate reflects ongoing conflicts over how the rivers are used, this exhibit is New Jersey’s story of water, whether as life-giving liquid, power source for production, route to a new home or resource for food, but always causing a major human impact on the landscape.

The walkable floor map, video and audio, and other hands-on activities will lead visitors through the four major components of the exhibition: Industry, which will include shipbuilding in the state and the Newark-based leather, hat, thread and beer industries; Settlement, which will examine lasting Dutch, English and Swedish influences on furniture and architecture; Food, which will highlight oyster harvesting at the mouth of a South Jersey river, and fishing skills used by the Lenape; and Transportation, which will tell the story of how New Jersey's towpath canals aided the movement of goods across the state.

The stories about and contributions of these four rivers are symbolic of the role New Jersey's waterways have played in shaping this state and the nation. Their stories are relevant today: two of the rivers, the Maurice and sections of the Delaware, have been designated nationally as Wild and Scenic rivers; and the Raritan and the Passaic, which flow through suburban and urban New Jersey, have been impacted by dense development. The exhibit examines the events that led to current conditions as a way to spark curiosity and awareness about the importance of freshwater rivers and streams for history and for our lives today.

Ebb and Flow: New Jersey and Its Rivers is free and open to the public. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Historical Society has developed related educational programs for schools, teachers, families and general visitors around the exhibit, which was developed as a major educational resource for the state. For more information on these programs, please call The New Jersey Historical Society education department at 973-596-8500,

Dorothy White Hartman, President of Past Perspectives, Inc., and an expert on interactive presentation and interpretation of New Jersey’s history, is the guest curator of Ebb and Flow. Daniel Schnur is the exhibit designer and installation manager.

Support for the exhibition Ebb and Flow: New Jersey and Its Rivers has been provided in part with funding from a Special Projects grant from The New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of Cultural Affairs in the Department of State; The Charles Emil Thenen Foundation; The Leavens Foundation: The John Ben Snow Memorial Trust; and The Charles Edison Fund.

The New Jersey Historical Society, a state-wide, private, non profit historical museum, library, and archives, is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the rich and intricate political, social, cultural and economic history of New Jersey to the broadest possible audiences. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Library hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

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(973) 596-8500 - Fax: (973) 596-6957
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