Carnegie Museum of Natural History

For more information, contact: Leigh Kish
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
412.622.3361 (office), 412.526.8587 (mobile)

February 28, 2014


Carnegie Museum of Natural History to Host RACE: Are We So Different?
March 29–October 27, 2014

Discover 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 Pittsburgh.


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


“This 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.” 


Exhibition Components 

RACE: 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.

The exhibition addresses race and racism from three distinct yet interconnected perspectives.

  • 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.
  • Everyday Experience: 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.


Exhibit 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.


RACE in Pittsburgh 

Carnegie 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 discussion.


Unique 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.



Explore 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



The 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 Dominion Foundation.



The price of the exhibition is included in paid museum admission. For more information, and for information on exhibition-related programming and group tours, visit or call 412.353.4632.



10 a.m.-5 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,