Earth Explorers




Organized around Earth’s spectacular eco-zones Earth Explorers brought the unparalleled adventures of National Geographic to life. Visitors learned about the daring men and women who venture into dangerous and remote parts of the world to discover new places, protect our planet’s biodiversity and unearth new scientific discoveries.

In this exhibit, visitors explored an arctic cabin, tested their ability to live in an ice-covered world, descended into the deep ocean in a 3-D submersible and explored how life forms at varying depths, even coming face-to-face with a great white shark. They also identified incredible insects from the Amazon while learning the benefits of biodiversity, ascended into the thin air of the Himalayas and soared in a hot air balloon over the Savanna to learn about the life of elephants and other mammals.

This exhibit was open May 21, 2016 through September 4, 2016.

About the Exhibit

National Geographic Earth Explorers, Grand Rapids Public MuseumCHILL: The Polar Regions
Experience life on ice in Earth’s extreme Polar Regions. Covered with icicles, battered by winds and harsh weather, an Arctic cabin invites hands-on discovery about surviving and thriving in the Polar Regions. Assemble the right mix of protein and carbohydrates in “What’s for Dinner?” Watch a polar bear pace outside a window and flip through the Explorer’s Notebook to learn first-hand survival strategies from photographer Paul Nicklen. Compare your own “thermogram,” heat loss signature, to a polar bear’s and test out how well different gloves protect your hands from the chill of an ice plate.


National Geographic Earth Explorers, Science Center of Iowa. (Christopher Gannon/Gannon Visuals) -- shot by Christopher Gannon on 9/25/13 in Des Moines, IA Shot for GES

DIVE: The Oceans
Can you handle life under pressure? Find out in the Oceans eco-zone, where you’ll descend into the deep in a 3-D submersible. Mysteries of life under pressure and at great depths are revealed through stunning National Geographic videos. Learn the science behind submersibles and how life forms at varying depths. Get up close and personal with AIR JAWS, an 11-foot long sculpted great white shark—one of the ocean’s oldest and most misunderstood predators.



National Geographic Earth Explorers, Grand Rapids Public MuseumTREK: The Rain Forests
Hang out in a prep tent for fun, self-guided discovery about life in the tropical rain forests – the wet, wild and wonderful ecosystem that provides much of the air we breathe, safeguards Earth’s incredible biodiversity and may well hold the key to new life-saving remedies. Try your hand at identifying incredible insects from the Amazon and get “grossed out” with realistic creepy-crawlies while discovering the benefits of biodiversity.


National Geographic Earth Explorers, Grand Rapids Public MuseumCLIMB: Mountains and Caves
Descend closer to the Earth’s core and ascend to its highest peaks. Meet Carsten Peter, an explorer who takes on Earth’s most challenging caves to share photographs with the rest of the world. Then, ascend into the thin air of the Himalayas, but be careful, you might be caught by a camera trap, the same technology used by explorer Steve Winter to capture photos of the elusive snow leopard.



National Geographic Earth Explorers, Grand Rapids Public Museum

SOAR: The Savanna
Take a hot air balloon ride to witness “Life On the Move.” Through seamless video production, surround sound and other atmospheric effects, you’ll soon have the sensation of flying over a savanna where wild herds still roam. Next, put your animal tracking and migration mapping skills to the test, and meet explorers who document the incredible life cycles and stories of elephants and other endangered mammals of the savanna.



Earth Explorers allows visitors to let their imaginations run wild as they become explorers and embark on an adventure to discover new species, study animal behavior and learn about the important roles technology, innovation and ingenuity play in making and documenting these discoveries.

Earth Explorers is produced by Global Experience Specialists (GES) in partnership with National Geographic.

Support for Earth Explorers is provided by:

Title Sponsor

Steve and Amy Van Andel


David & Carol Van Andel Family Foundation


Cascade Engineering
Lacks Enterprises, Inc.


Ada Hospital for Animals
Jim & Barb Haveman
Berends Hendricks Stuit
Kennari Consulting
David & Amy Leonard
New Holland Brewing Company
Adventure Credit Union 
Switchback Gear Exchange
Toyota of Grand Rapids

Media Sponsor:





Additional support from: 

Big Apple Bagels
Country Fresh
Kaat’s Culligan of Grand Rapids
Ken’s Fruit Market
Michigan Apple Association
Old Orchard
The Pump House
The Salted Cupcake
Texas Roadhouse
Tim Hortons