The National Museum of Natural History was a whirlwind of thought provoking questions and insightful information and facts. Hans Sues, Senior Scientist and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology covered a lot in his tour, and you could see his excitement about science come through as he explained the exhibitions Ocean Hall and Human Origins. Although the tour was crowded and often hard to hear it was worth it because all that noise and excitement means that people are in the museum and hopefully learning a thing or two about their planet and the creatures that inhabit it. Hans made a comment that the museum is trying to teach and present facts that may not be present in everyone’s textbooks or education. I think Hans and the museum did a great job of creating a conversation around these difficult subjects by asking a question that anyone can answer, “What does it mean to be human?” Visitors can see the evidence presented and draw their own conclusions. Hans brought up an interesting connection to the topic of diversity. He asked, “How would we treat different human species if they still existed today?” I’ve never personally thought about the different human species in context with the problems of today (or in the past few hundred years or so).
Also, I thought the museum had great visuals, graphics, and interactive materials. The addition of the real aquarium (coral reefs) with “characters” from Finding Nemo is small, but impactful in many ways. I heard children gasp in excitement at the fish tank, and one little girl explaining the “Nemo” fish to her family. There were also parents asking their children to read the signs, and answer the questions. Overall it was an excellent visit.
Lastly, Michael Walsh gave a great lecture. His persistence was inspiring and much appreciated. Michael’s lecture and Hans’ tour both spoke to the idea of thinking globally as an individual. In today’s world we can’t rely on others to save our monuments, historic sites, oceans, and mammals. Everyone has to pitch in and do their part, even if it means being the mediator and creating relationships between disagreeing individuals.