DAVENPORT, IOWA (May 12, 2023) — The Putnam Museum and Science Center is excited to welcome Dr Marcus Eriksen and the traveling exhibit JUNKraft. This exhibit examines the issue of global plastic pollution within our oceans. More than 171 trillion pieces of plastic can be found floating on the surface of the ocean. Over 1,200 species worldwide are affected by plastic pollution through ingestion and entanglement. This exhibit opens at the museum on May 20, 2023, and will be here until October.

JUNKraft shows the importance of our choices and the need for us to speak out for our future by keeping our water clean,” shares Kelly Lao Vice President of Museum Experiences. “The beauty of Marcus Eriksen’s work grabs your attention, then, on closer examination, you see the work demonstrates the impacts of plastics on living systems, from entire ecosystems to individual entities.”

In 2008, two sailors, Marcus Erikson and Joel Paschal, launched a home-made raft from Los Angeles with the intent to drift to Hawaii to bring attention to the emerging plastic pollution problem. With no motor or support vessel, the crew took thirteen weeks to reach their destination, three times longer than expected. They used 15,000 plastic bottles, twenty-six sailboat masts, and a Cessna aircraft fuselage to construct the raft, named JUNK. The bottles were stuffed into thirty-foot-long pontoons made from old fishing nets. Their third partner in the project, Anna Cummins, maintained daily satellite-phone contact with the sailors to give constant weather updates about the four hurricanes that swept past them during their journey.

“Bringing the plastic pollution issue to communities inland is the best way to solve the problem at the source. Everyone lives on a watershed, so understanding how plastic travels from rivers to the sea is a huge step in finding solutions," said Dr Marcus Eriksen.

JUNKraft will feature the raft JUNK made from recycled materials, as well as sculptures and other art also made out of recycled materials. It is a blend of art, science, and solutions to highlight the impact of humanity on the natural environment. We hope that the exhibit will inspire and educate viewers along with showcasing some of the biggest Ocean Heroes who have come up with solutions to combat the global waste crisis.

“We are honored to host this important exhibit at the Putnam” says Rachael Mullins, President and CEO of the Putnam Museum and Science Center. “JUNKraft offers a unique message that advances our mission to inspire our community to learn about and care for our world.”

JUNKraft will open to the public beginning Saturday, May 20. On that day, Dr Marcus Eriksen will be at the Putnam Museum doing a Q&A about the exhibit, his journey, and about his mission of continuing to fight ocean pollution.

This exhibit is included in the price of general admission — $9 for adults, $8 for youth (ages 3–18), seniors, college students, and military. Through the Putnam’s Museums for All program, admission is $1 per person for households with the presentation of an EBT card. Admission is free for members. For more information, visit putnam.org/.  

This work is made possible by: Arconic Foundation.

About the Putnam

The Putnam Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, brings to life a sense of place, time, and purpose to ignite human potential and inspire our diverse community to learn about and care for our world and all its people. For more than 150 years, guests have experienced the Putnam’s permanent exhibits ranging from Unearthing Ancient Egypt to our family-favorite science galleries, as well as an array of programs and internationally-recognized traveling exhibits. The Putnam is dedicated to helping guests discover and explore in a friendly and engaging atmosphere.

For more information about events and exhibits, visit putnam.org/.

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