Snowflakes, each unique in design and composition, have befuddled people since 135 B.C.
Recent technological innovations have offered scientists a better view of a snowflake's anatomy. The Museum of Northwest Colorado, 590 Yampa Ave. in Craig, has an exhibit that allows Moffat County residents that same opportunity.
The snowflake exhibit is on display now and features photos taken by William Bentley and Kenneth Libbrecht, among other items.
Before ascending the stairs to the main part of the exhibit, the center of the museum features a video about the history of studying snowflakes. Some of the first microscopes ever used to view the flakes — on loan from Yale University — also are on display.
The exhibit also features various apparatuses for traveling in the snow.
Next to the microscope display sits a sleigh originally belonging to Baby Doe Tabor, the wife of a multimillionaire who lost it all. Upstairs, original snow skis, snowshoes and photos of Carl Howelsen are on display next to snowflake photos.
Photos by William Bentley, who began taking photos of snowflakes in 1885 at the age of 15, sit next to photos by Kenneth Libbrecht, a physics professor at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.
The museum recently purchased four original photos by Bentley which are scheduled to arrive any day.
Mary Pat Dunn, registrar at the museum, said the idea for the exhibit “snowballed” after viewing a magazine article last spring.
Dunn said students from local elementary schools are coming to visit and learn how snowflakes form and the conditions they need to do so.
“It’s so much fun to learn about,” Dunn said. “The exhibit is absolutely phenomenal. We have photography from 100 some years ago up to current day.”
Dunn said interest in snowflakes has really taken off in the auction world, and the museum has plans to travel the exhibit to other museums and possibly ski areas.
Books of snowflake photographs are available for purchase at the museum, which Dunn said have been selling quickly.
The exhibit can be viewed during normal museum hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org