Underground of Enchantment

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Exhibit > Lechuguilla Cave of Carlsbad Caverns National Park will be featured

An exhibit, “Underground of Enchantment,” featuring 3D photos of the microbial secrets of Lechuguilla Cave in southeastern New Mexico, will open with a reception from 4-5:30 p.m. April 5 at Mesa Public Library; and from 5-6:30 p.m. at Pajarito Environmental Education Center.

The cave is part of Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the exhibit originated with — and is traveled by — Carlsbad Museum and Art Center.

Lechuguilla Cave is the deepest limestone cave (1597.4 ft./486.9m) in the United States and the fifth-longest cave in the world (128miles/206km). The cave holds a fragile ecosystem, which was cut off from the surface until 1986. To protect this system, entry into Lechuguilla is restricted to exploration and science. This exhibit gives the public a chance to glimpse the varied forms and geologic features all in 3D photographs and films.

The exhibit will feature presentations by David De Roest, Michel Renda, Daniel Chailloux and Peter and Ann Bosted, all photographers and cavers from Belgium, France and the United States. 

Gosia Allison-Kosior, originally from Poland but in love with the surface and underground of the Land of Enchantment since 1995, curated this look at one of New Mexico’s best-kept secrets.

The Lechuguilla Cave connected DeRoest, Renda and the Bosteds. They said their feeling of being privileged compelled them to share images of their expeditions with others. This was the moment when a dream about the exhibit was born. 

Two different portions of “Underground of Enchantment” can be viewed at Mesa Public Library Art Gallery and PEEC. The library will show photographic panels complete with 3D viewers and PEEC will show four short films in 3D about expeditions into the underground world. Both exhibits will be on display from April 5-May 29. 

There are several programs and talks planned about the exhibit, including one with live bats at PEEC and one by Beth Cortright, who is a caver and PEEC staff member who entered and experienced the cave. 



Schedule of events

This exhibit and other library programs are made possible with support from the Friends of Los Alamos County Libraries.

Underground of Enchantment Special Programs in April

April 5: “Underground of Enchantment” exhibit opening

Mesa Public Library brings the “Underground of Enchantment” exhibit to Los Alamos. This 3-D photo exhibit and movie features the formations and microbiology of Lechuguilla Cave in southeastern New Mexico. View the exhibit at Mesa Public Library during regular library hours and the film at PEEC 30 minutes before each program, during open hours, and by appointment. Through May 29. Free. MPL opening, 4-5:30 p.m.; PEEC opening, 5-6:30 p.m. 

April 5: Mapping Lechuguilla Cave

Since its discovery in 1986, Lechuguilla Cave has been known around the world as the most beautiful cave on Earth. John Lyles will share the highlights of his 20 years involvement in the cave project, now 136 miles of mapped cave. At PEEC, 6:30 p.m. Free. 

April 14: Caving outing to Alabaster Cave

Tony Hinojosa will lead a caving outing to Alabaster Cave near San Isidro. Participants will make their way through the gypsum cave and eat lunch in the cool darkness. In-cave time will be around three to four hours. Obstacles include crawling, scrambling over rocks, traversing rock ledges and squeezing through tight spaces in the cave. See equipment requirements and additional information on the website. The cost is $24 members/$30 non-members. Register in advance. Meet at PEEC at 8 a.m. to carpool, return around 5 p.m.

April 17: Natural history of bats: Masters of the night sky

Wildlife biologist Debbie Buecher gives an overview of bat flight, echolocation and resource requirements. Hear bat calls and see slides from Buecher’s research that illustrates the diversity of bats in the Southwest. She will also show some live rehab bats. Designed for adults and children in second grade and up. The cost is $5 person $10 family; free for PEEC members. 6 p.m. at PEEC

April 30: Expedition caving basics

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live and work underground for a week?  PEEC intern and caver Beth Cortright will present photos and videos detailing the basics of expedition caving. During expeditions in caves such as Lechuguilla in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, teams are based out of a camp and the main goal is to safely survey designated areas. Free. 7 p.m. at Mesa Public Library.

May 14: Recent discoveries in New Mexico caves                      

James Hunter, John Lyles, and Brian Kendrick will discuss and show slides of the discovery of Oz, an enormous passage that represents the largest discovery in the cave in more than 20 years. The slideshow is aimed at displaying the “beauty” of underground New  Mexico, as well as the difficulty, danger and team spirit that define expedition caving, 7 p.m. at Mesa Public Library. Free.