SPOKANE — The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, 2316 W. First Ave., is marking the 40th anniversary of the May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens eruption with the Mount St. Helens Critical Memory exhibit. It will run through July.

MAC curated material artifacts, film, photography, recordings, first-hand accounts and virtual experiences to examine how the 1980 eruption has advanced the human understanding and perceptions of volcanoes more than any other eruption in history, according to a release.

A variety of analog and digital technologies tell the story of the Cascade Range’s most active volcano.

From time-tested oral traditions, to digitally crowd-sourced accounts of the 1980 blast, Critical Memory explores how knowledge is passed down through generations. Scientific data, communications and tribal culture merge to present a useable history, because the question isn’t if Mount St. Helens will erupt again, it’s when.

The Mount St. Helens eruption was the first of its kind to be extensively photographed and videotaped, creating a wealth of visible and audible records.

At 8:32 a.m. on May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted with terrible violence.

The initial blast decimated almost everything natural or manmade in an 8-mile radius.

A massive ash plume rained 520 million tons of ash over Central and Eastern Washington, disrupting everyday life for weeks.

Mount St. Helens remains the most destructive volcanic eruption in United States history.

The eruption killed 57 people, destroyed 200 homes and eight bridges, damaged or destroyed 39 railcars and flattened almost 4.7 billion board feet of timber.

The ash fall plunged downwind communities as far away as Spokane and northwest of Walla Walla into darkness and smothered crops and transportation routes.

Mount St. Helens: Critical Memory will run concurrently with Pompeii: The Immortal City, which opens Feb. 7, bringing to life the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in August 79 AD.

Founded in 1916, the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, popularly known as the “MAC,” is a Smithsonian-affiliated museum of regional history, culture and art.

The museum’s extensive permanent collection of Plateau tribal art and artifacts, regional art and historical objects and its archives reflect the past, present and future of the Inland Northwest. The MAC presents changing exhibitions drawn from its collections, as well as traveling national exhibitions, all designed to educate, entertain, and engage people of all ages. Learn more at northwestmuseum.org.

Museum and store hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday–Sunday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on the third Thursday and closed Mondays.

Admission is $10 for those 18 and older; $8 for seniors 65 and older and college students with valid ID; $5 for children/students ages 6-17; free for members and for children 5 and younger and to Bank of America Merrill Lynch card holders the first full weekend of every month.