The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History has announced its new Human Origins Initiative. Their website was launched yesterday. On Wednesday March 17 they will open the new David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins which features a major new exhibit on what it means to be human. As part of this initiative, the Smithsonian has convened a Broad Social Impact Committee (BSIC), acknowledging the spectrum of responses that might greet the exhibit. I have the privilege of being asked to be part of this committee which represents the wide range of religious and cultural traditions in America. The BSIC website lists the attendees but has not yet posted any of the collective input. The committee had no opportunity to influence the content of the exhibit. Rather, the objective was to help edit the FAQ section both in the exhibit and on the website. We have also been asked to help advise on the training of docents.
On Sunday March 21 from 5pm to 7pm, the committee will hold a press conference to talk about some of the reactions. Our committee met last June in a stimulating session sharing each of our representative groups’ potential reaction to the exhibit. We were able to view some of the back room activities in the museum as well as look at the exhibit construction in progress. We will meet again on March 21 and 22 and be able to view the final product. Those of you who are planning to come to the ASA meeting in Washington DC are encouraged to take the time to visit the exhibit.
To help me provide some input at the March 21-22 meeting, I’d appreciate your browsing the website and submitting your comments here.