Carnegie Museum of Natural History to Host RACE: Are We So Different?
March 29–October 27, 2014
and reflect on the science, history, and current issues surrounding race and
racism in America by visiting RACE: Are
We So Different?, on view at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, March
29–October 27, 2014. This exhibition, housed in a 5,000-square-foot gallery,
uses sobering text, compelling photographs, interactive audiovisual components,
and related artifacts to challenge perceptions about race and to help visitors understand
why perceived differences have been used to justify discrimination. The
exhibition is supplemented by programming designed to engage visitors in
broader discourse about race and racism in America and specifically in
RACE is a project of the
American Anthropological Association in collaboration with the Science Museum
of Minnesota. It is the first exhibition of this scale to explore these themes.
For more information, visit www.understandingrace.org.
exhibition is an invitation for thought leaders, community members, educators,
students, and casual museum visitors to learn something new about how race has
been classified; confront beliefs about race and culture; and to converse
internally and with others,” says Cecile Shellman, Communications and Community
Specialist at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. “The idea is to spark
dialogue that might not otherwise occur. In this way, the museum provides a
safe and open space for learning about race and racism. We will consider this
exhibition a success if the conversations continue well beyond our walls.”
Are We So Different? is
suitable for all age groups: it begins by asking basic questions often posed by
children about the similarity and differences among ethnicities or
nationalities. Interactive hands-on elements encourage visitors to explore the
science and history of race on their own, while privately examining their own
perceptions. Trained facilitators stationed in the exhibition hall are
available to answer questions and provide a human touch.
exhibition addresses race and racism from three distinct yet interconnected
- Science: In this section,
visitors discover that genetically all human beings are more alike than
individuals of any other living species. Migrations are traced from the
continent of Africa to various parts of the world, and visitors learn how skin
tones, hair textures, and eye colors evolved in response to environmental
factors. Most importantly, visitors learn that no there is no biological
support to the notion of race.
- History: For centuries, people
in power have classified others based on observable physical differences, and
the resulting conclusions have led to systemic mistreatment of groups believed
to be inferior or less capable. This section of the exhibition explores how
groups of people were catalogued, how economics, popular culture, and politics
have influenced treatment of various groups, and how attitudes about race have
changed over time.
Even though race is not a biological concept, the social effects of racism are
real. Racism remains a chilling, pervasive actuality in the United States and
abroad. Racism continues to impact our communities, schools, social systems,
sports industries, and the world of entertainment.
text, artifacts, and multimedia presentations tell a comprehensive story of how
notions of race have changed throughout American history. Auditory elements
invite visitors to hear and respond to people talking about their own
experiences with race and racism. Examples include a woman discovering her white
privilege, another person talking about growing up Korean in a white family,
and yet another discussing what it’s like to be a part of a multi-racial
couple. Other elements of the exhibition include explorations of illnesses such
as sickle cell anemia, traditionally thought to afflict those from certain
ethnicities. Scientifically based conclusions about these beliefs and others
like them may be surprising to some visitors.
Museum of Natural History is one of many venues in Pittsburgh that are
beginning to engage in thoughtful conversations about diversity and equity.
Central to the museum’s goals for hosting this exhibition is to provide a
resource that inspires and seeds meaningful dialogue leading to change and
increased community action. During the run of the exhibition, the museum
invites educational and cultural organizations to view the exhibition and
collaborate with the museum on programmatic activities and continued
to Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s presentation of RACE: Are We So Different? is the site-specific Community Voices
Gallery— a collaboration between Carnegie Museum of Art and Carnegie Museum of
Natural History that focuses the exhibition’s themes on Pittsburgh and the
local experience. This exhibit was curated by Lynne Hayes-Freeland and Nikkia
Hall. The exhibit introduces original photography juxtaposed against Charles
“Teenie” Harris’ own photographs, with questions posed to community members
from years past, showing that these topics have been grappled with for decades
and still require attention. Inspired by the Pittsburgh Courier’s “Pittsburgh Speaks Up” column, the Community
Voices project presents contemporary dialogue around the challenges of race.
related topics through an engaging slate of free and ticketed programs
featuring distinguished scholars, community leaders, and public figures whose
studies in critical race theory have driven research for this exhibition.
Museum education staff members are working with local non-profit, educational,
civic and social groups to ensure relevant and topical content. Planned
programs include a genetics day, musical performances highlighting local groups
celebrating diverse heritage, and exploration forums. Other exhibition-related
programming features artistic presentations and cultural displays. School
groups, educators, and affinity groups are also particularly invited to reserve
visits and meeting space to convene for tours and dialogue. For information
about this programming, including pricing, visit www.carnegiemnh.org.
exhibition was created with generous funding from the National Science
Foundation (NSF) and the Ford Foundation. RACE:
Are We So Different? is presented locally by EQT Foundation. Additional
support is provided by The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, and
of the exhibition is included in paid museum admission. For more information,
and for information on exhibition-related programming and group tours, visit www.carnegiemnh.org or call 412.353.4632.
p.m., Monday, Wednesday-Saturday, with extended hours until 8 p.m. on Thursday;
noon-5 p.m. on Sunday.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History, one of the four Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, is among the top natural history museums in the country. It maintains, preserves, and interprets an extraordinary collection of 22 million objects and scientific specimens used to broaden understanding of evolution, conservation, and biodiversity. Carnegie Museum of Natural History generates new scientific knowledge, advances science literacy, and inspires visitors of all ages to become passionate about science, nature, and world cultures. More information is available by calling 412.622.3131 or by visiting the website, www.carnegiemnh.org.