Extreme Ice


New temporary exhibit showcases effects of climate change through stunning footage

CHICAGO, Ill. (March 23, 2017)—The Griffin Museum of Science and Industry (Griffin MSI) will open Extreme Ice, a new temporary exhibit illustrating the immediacy of climate change and how it is altering our world, on March 23, 2017. American photographer James Balog captured thought-provoking images over a multi-year period that showcase the dramatic extent of melting glaciers around the world. Through stunning photographic documentation and time-lapse videography of these glaciers, Extreme Ice provides guests an emotionally visual representation of climate change. This exhibit encourages and educates guests on how they can make a difference in their daily lives.

Balog is the founder and director of the Earth Vision Institute and Extreme Ice Survey (EIS), the most wide-ranging, ground-based, photographic study of glaciers. Extreme Ice features the EIS team’s global documentation of glacier melt—alongside other hands-on interactive and informative elements—to illustrate what is happening around the world at a rapid rate.

“Griffin MSI has a responsibility to our guests, schools and communities to showcase exhibits that present complex scientific concepts in an accessible way,” said Dr. Patricia Ward, director of science and technology at Griffin MSI. “Extreme Ice showcases James Balog’s beautifully powerful photography to illustrate the real and alarming speed at which glaciers are melting around the world. The exhibit presents a unique and emotional way to educate guests about climate change.”

Nearly 200,000 known glaciers have been mapped and catalogued around the world, according to an international team from the University of Colorado Boulder and Trent University in Ontario, Canada. Since the early 20th century most of them have been retreating due to the warming climate, according to the National Snow & Ice Data Center.

Balog and his team used precisely engineered time-lapse cameras to document 24 glaciers around the world, recording their dramatic changes, which are on display in the exhibit. His team’s compelling and high-resolution footage places guests directly into settings such as Glacier National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro and the Alps, giving everyone a chance to see the real and alarming speed at which glaciers are melting around the world.

“It is a privilege to showcase the Extreme Ice Survey at the Griffin Museum of Science and Industry, as it is vital to engage with new audiences about climate change,” Balog said. “Photography is one of the most powerful mediums of communication we have; visual evidence illuminates our world in a way that nothing else can.” 

Large-scale high-resolution photo prints in the exhibit depict scenes around the world, including:

Mount Kilimanjaro ice field in Tanzania, Africa, expected to melt by 2060

Trift Glacier in Switzerland, one of the fastest-retreating in the European Alps

Retreat of the Columbia Glacier in Alaska between 2009 and 2015

Blue ponds formed by meltwater in Alaska’s Columbia Glacier

Retreat of the Bridge Glacier in Canada between 2009 and 2012

Icebergs off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula

Mont Blanc in the French Alps, where many glaciers are quickly receding

Greenland “moulins,” when melting ice drains through the surface and into tunnels that release the water to the ocean

Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland

Grinnell Glacier in Montana’s Glacier National Park

Mount Everest in Nepal

Artifacts on display include equipment and a customized camera that Balog and his team used on their expeditions, helping guests to understand the physical demands that he and his team encountered traveling to these remote destinations. Guests will also learn about the technological advances James and his team created to capture such compelling footage. Other items on display include protective insulated clothing, helmets and climbing equipment. 

To further emphasize and illustrate the effects of climate change, guests can also:

Touch and see a real 7-foot-tall ice wall, providing a physical connection to the footage in the exhibit

Interact with maps showcasing the potential impact of coastal flooding around the world, from New York City to Shanghai, Copenhagen to London

See how rising temperatures will affect Chicago

Explore the work of other ice scientists throughout the world

Discover how bold individuals are single-handedly making radical impacts

Understand the part they can play in mitigating the effects of climate change

Extreme Ice opens March 23, 2017 and runs through early 2019. It is included in Museum Entry ($21.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids 3-11). Buy tickets online in advance at msichicago.org.

The Extreme Ice Griffin MSI exhibition team utilized a wide variety of scientific resources to inform its overall content as well as the specific information and visualizations displayed in the exhibition. Griffin MSI is grateful to the help of these universities, organizations and individuals for their insight. For a full list, please see separate documented list in the press kit.

Extreme Ice is presented by the Aunt Marlene Foundation with additional major support from the Malott Family Foundation. Other funding provided by Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The Buchanan Family Foundation, Connie and Dennis Keller, and The Wareham/Elfman Family. 

About the Griffin Museum of Science and Industry

The Griffin Museum of Science and Industry (Griffin MSI) offers world-class and uniquely interactive experiences that support the Museum’s mission: to inspire the inventive genius in everyone. As one of the largest science museums in the world featuring award-winning exhibits and hands-on activities, a visit to Griffin MSI is guaranteed to connect fun and learning. Griffin MSI is committed to offering comprehensive educational programs—for students, administrators, teachers and families—that make a difference in local communities and contribute to Griffin MSI’s goal to transform and illuminate STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) pathways for people of all ages. The Museum is grateful for the support of its generous donors and guests, who make its work possible. Griffin MSI is also supported in part by the people of Chicago through the Chicago Park District. For more information, visit msichicago.org or call (773) 684-1414.

Press Photos

Click "Download Image" to open the full-size version.

American photographer James Balog poses in a giant holes called a “moulin,” which forms when meltwater flows into cracks in the Greenland Ice Sheet.

 [Michael Brown]


Extreme Ice features a 7-foot-tall ice wall that guests can touch. 

[Kasumi Chow/Griffin Museum of Science and Industry]


Guests of all ages are able to touch a real 7-foot-tall ice wall.

 [Kasumi Chow/Griffin Museum of Science and Industry]


Extreme Ice features dozens of stunning photos of global glacier melt, shot by American photographer James Balog.

 [Kasumi Chow/Griffin Museum of Science and Industry]


Guests can learn more about Balog's work and how they can make a difference with interactive stations.

[Kasumi Chow/Griffin Museum of Science and Industry]


American photographer James Balog interacts with a young guest at the Extreme Ice opening event.

[Kasumi Chow/Griffin Museum of Science and Industry]


Guests can see stunning photography of global glacier melt in Extreme Ice.

[Kasumi Chow/Griffin Museum of Science and Industry]


Pictured is an up-close shot of a moulin.

 [James Balog, Earth Vision Institute]


Bridge Glacier contributes to the loss of over 5.8 trillion gallons of water from British Columbia’s glaciers every year. This photo was captured in 2009.

 [James Balog, Earth Vision Institute]


The Bridge Glacier has retreated over two miles in the past 40 years, with 75-90 percent of its ice lost due to surface melt by warming temperatures. This photo was captured in 2012.

 [James Balog, Earth Vision Institute]


As warmer temperatures heat Alaska’s Columbia Glacier, brilliant blue ponds of meltwater form on the glacier’s surface. 

 [James Balog, Earth Vision Institute]


This photo displays a melt water river formed by glacier melt in Greenland.

 [James Balog, Earth Vision Institute]


The fast-moving Khumbu Icefall, possibly the most dangerous route to the summit of Mount Everest, flows several feet downhill every day.

 [James Balog, Earth Vision Institute]


Images presented here are for the express use for promoting the Griffin Museum of Science and Industry. All images must be properly credited. Images may not be reproduced by third parties without express written permission from the Griffin Museum of Science and Industry.