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From Murphy to Manteo -- in a NC Museum

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RALEIGH — In the fall of 1999, you will be able to walk from the North Carolina mountains to the coast in just a few minutes. Some special artists are trying to make that journey possible.

Their work will appear in the new North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences.

Melisse Reichman and Ellen Ballentine are taking pieces of the Piedmont forest with them to their California studio. That's where they will recreate trees and leaves and sculpt animals.

"The groundcover with the beautiful flowers that are present in this area is one of the high points of the exhibit," Reichman says.

"Despite how real these look, these actually are leaves that are fabricated, handmade," said Roy Campbell, exhibits director.

These handmade wonders will fill the largest exhibit hall in the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, set to open in the fall of next year.

The exhibit will include habitats of every region of the state, including the region around exhibit co-chairman Mike Dunn's home, in Chatham County.

"Even on days when I am stuck there in the office, I will always have a piece of my yard that I can go visit," Dunn says.

Rubber molds will create the textures of sweet gum trees and hickorys.

"We take a lot of steps to make sure we are biologically accurate," Reichman said.

The colors, the textures, even the sounds will be duplicated in the final exhibit and the nature that inspired them will still be around for generations to enjoy.

Once completed, the new North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences will be the largest of its kind in the southeastern United States.

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Rick Armstrong, Reporter
Rick Armstrong, Photographer
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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