A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Bringing the Smithsonian to Your Patrons

by on October 20, 2014

One of the most interesting museum experiences out there is the Smithsonian. However, many people may not have the opportunity to travel and see everything. Now, the American Library Association has teamed up with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) to offer a traveling exhibit, Exploring Human Origins, based on the Hall of Human Origins. Public libraries can apply through November 19 to be considered as one of the nineteen sites that will host the exhibition.[1]

The 1,200 square foot exhibition is based on the original, which has been on display at the NMNH since 2010 and has been visited by more than 20 million people. The idea behind the exhibit–and its accompanying programs—is to provide the public with an opportunity to learn about evolution. To help create this open-minded atmosphere, the NMNH has assembled a panel of scientists and a group of religious and philosophical representatives from a variety of perspectives to develop programs related to the topic. Libraries that are selected to participate in this event will also need to form this kind of committee to assist with the programs.[2]

Some of the required programs include an opening event, a community conversation, a discussion specifically for the local clergy and community leaders, a half-day training for science teachers and other science education-related trainers, and a general lecture for the public on new research being done in the field of evolution. These programs are led by staff involved with the exhibition. The library is also required to hold other programs that fit the topic and are assisted in development by the local committee that is formed.[3]

To apply, each library must select a program director who will attend training in March 2015 in Washington, D.C. The proposal narrative has several pieces of important information that need to be taken into serious consideration, including possible presenters and members of the community panel, as well as detailed information on publicity, partnerships, and the exhibition space. And, did I mention the applications are due November 19?[4]

It’s not every day that an opportunity to bring a piece of a world-renowned museum to your patrons’ doorsteps. The application process and program planning will be detailed and may be a little intensive, but bringing such an amazing exhibition and discussion to your community will have the opportunity to enrich a multitude of lives!

Works Cited

[1]American Library Association. “ALA, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History Announce ‘Exploring Human Origins’ Traveling Exhibition Opportunity.” American Library Association. August 19, 2014. http://www.ala.org/news/press-releases/2014/08/ala-smithsonian-s-national-museum-natural-history-announce-exploring-human-0 (accessed September 17, 2014).

[2] American Library Association. “Exploring Human Origins: Project Guidelines.” American Library Association. August 18, 2014. https://apply.ala.org/humanorigins/guidelines (accessed September 18, 2014).

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

Cover Photo Credit: Philip Cohen

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