Launched with a live performance piece featuring a naked Chinese artist, 50 naked local residents, 30 sheep, a sheepdog and a lamb, "Inside Out: New Chinese Art" is not for the timid-or the puritanical. The National Gallery of Australia exhibition consists of 90 works, including photographs, videos and installation pieces, created between 1985-1998, a period when traditional culture felt the shock of rapid modernization. Highlights include "Temple of Heaven (China Monument)," Gu Wenda's ethereal enclosure made of screens of human hair, traditional Chinese furniture and videos; and Zhang Xiaogang's "Bloodline: Family Portrait," which shows a blank-faced, Mao-suited couple and their child, linked by lines of blood. Through Aug. 13.
Intrepid travelers interested in using their vacation time to help save threatened environments like Inner Mongolia's Black River Delta, and endangered species like Costa Rica's caterpillars and Kenya's black rhinos, can choose from hundreds of scientific research expeditions to remote locations around the world, sponsored by the Earthwatch Institute. Participants pay between $700 and $4,000, excluding airfares, to assist scientists on field trips lasting between a week and several months. For those with less time to spare, the organization also runs discovery weekends in the U.S., Europe, Australia and Japan: coming projects include monitoring echidna ecology in South Australia and surveying otters in England's Cotswolds. See www.earthwatch.org.
Don't throw away those worn-out Nikes; they might be museum pieces. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is mounting an exhibition that pays homage to the highly engineered footwear that is replacing the simple sneaker both on and off the sports field. Among the 150 pairs in "Design Afoot: Athletic Shoes 1995-2000" are computer-designed shoes produced by sportswear companies like Adidas, Nike and Puma, as well as high-fashion designs by Gucci, Prada and Tommy Hilfiger. Through Oct. 17.
Britain has opened the first phase of a $70 million, 16,000-km network of cycling and walking routes that will ultimately crisscross the British Isles. About 8,000 km of routes are now open to the public. Half are traffic-free zones, built along old railway lines, canal towpaths and forest trails, while the rest are on lightly traveled roads. The routes also feature outdoor public art, including fountains, landscape sculptures and "environmental earthworks." For information and maps see www.sustrans.org.uk.