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Museum of Science Boston‎ Presents RACE Are We So Different

The Museum of Science Boston presents RACE: Are We So Different? on exhibit January 16 through May 15, 2011.

Developed by the American Anthropological Association in collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota and sponsored locally by Genzyme and Liberty Mutual, this compelling exhibit will encourage visitors to explore the origins and impact of race and racism through biological, societal, and cultural perspectives.

Exhibit designers worked closely with a wide range of experts including anthropologists, geneticists, and archeologists to create content that promotes discovery, discussion, and reflection. RACE: Are We So Different challenges old social and cultural conventions and affirms that humankind cannot be divided and categorized by race or ethnicity.

Paul Fontaine, the Museum’s vice president of education, believes that RACE: Are We So Different has the power to stimulate important conversations. “We hope the exhibit will prompt visitors to consider the ways in which they view themselves and others within the context of race. Our colleagues at museums around the country confirm that the exhibit encourages thoughtful conversations among family, friends and colleagues, both during and following their visits. If Museum-goers take time to reflect on their beliefs, confront their fears, question preconceptions and challenge assumptions about race, then the exhibit will be a success here in Boston.”

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

Science: In this section of the exhibit, visitors will discover that human beings are more alike than individuals of any other living species, due to having the lowest genetic variation. In other words, any two humans are more genetically similar than two emperor penguins, two chimpanzees, or two fruit flies. Here, visitors learn that no one gene or set of genes can support the idea of race.

History: The practice of cataloguing people based on physical differences rather than genetic similarities has been employed for hundreds of years. While attitudes toward race have changed over time, this exhibit component demonstrates the myriad ways in which economic interests, popular culture, science, politics and the struggle for power have played a role in shaping our understanding of race.

Everyday Experience: While race is not a biological concept, its impact is real within both social and cultural contexts. In this themed area, visitors will explore the personal side of race and its impact on our communities, schools, businesses, healthcare systems, entertainment industry, and the world of amateur and professional sports.

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