A magician never shares her secrets, but Summit Metro Parks interpretive artist Danette Rushboldt is happy to share the origins of many features included in the new "Fantastic Fungi & Magnificent Mushrooms" exhibit debuting at F.A. Seiberling Nature Realm next month.
A destroying angel mushroom started out as sombrero, a puffball mushroom was made from an old dodge ball, and other items were reused or repurposed from pieces that haven't been displayed since the park's visitors center (1828 Smith Road, Akron) was reopened seven years ago after a major renovation.
During the six-month exhibit, the grounds will include more than a hundred whimsical mushrooms made from the bottoms of 2-liter bottles and cuttings of PVC pipe. Back inside the building, photos, 3-D models, a community art display and several hands-on exhibits will highlight the colorful variety of fungi and mushrooms found in Summit County three seasons of the year.
The exhibit will open June 4 with an opening reception from 1 to 3 p.m. Guided mushroom hikes will take place at 1:30 and 2:30 that afternoon.
Through December, a number of related programs will be offered by district staff. The building is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The grounds are open daily.
Rushboldt and naturalists Dave Brumfield, Cassie Hall, Joe Malmisur and Pat Rydquist have collaborated on "Fantastic Fungi & Magnificent Mushrooms" for about a year. Brumfield and Rushboldt are also working on a series of three online field guides that will be released in the coming months.
Brumfield said he hopes the exhibit leads people to have a better understanding and appreciation for fungi and mushrooms.
"Trees and plants are dependent on fungi," Brumfield said. "The largest living thing on Earth is a fungus. Mushrooms are made up of about 90 percent water, and more than 30 species of mushrooms glow in the dark!"
Scientifically speaking, Brumfield said the kingdom fungi is primarily made up of yeasts, molds and mushrooms. All mushrooms are fungi, but not all fungi are mushrooms. Mushrooms are the fruiting body of a type of fungus.
For more information about the exhibit, call 330-865-8065.