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Smithsonian Seeks Exhibition Facilitators

The Department of Outreach and Education at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History seeks creative, energetic and outgoing people to become volunteer Exhibition Facilitators for the RACE: Are We So Different? exhibition. NMNH will host the exhibition from June 18, 2011 through January 1, 2012.

RACE: Are We So Different? is a project of the American Anthropological Association funded by the Ford Foundation and the National Science Foundation. It brings together the everyday experience of living with race, the history of race as an idea, the role of science in that history, and the findings of contemporary science that are challenging the foundations of the idea of race.

The numerous museums and institutions that have hosted RACE: Are We So Different? since it was launched in 2007 have all met with positive responses from their audiences and communities. In every case, volunteers have been central to that success.

Exhibition Facilitators will engage visitors in the exhibition hall and encourage them in dialogue, interaction, and reflection. In doing so, they will enhance visitors’ experience of the exhibition’s interactive and informative elements and enable thoughtful conversation and exchange about the many topics it raises.

The ideal Exhibition Facilitator is an effective communicator who enjoys listening to and talking with people of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds. As an NMNH volunteer, you will receive specialized training from museum educators, scientists, and other staff. Training will cover the content and resources of the exhibition, styles of learning and interaction suited to museum visitors, and methods for facilitating respectful, informed, and even challenging conversations about race, identity, history, and humanity. Training will be on evenings and weekends beginning in early May and ending in mid-June.

For detailed information and to apply online, visit:

or contact David LaCroix, Volunteer Recruitment and Training Coordinator, at:

To learn more about RACE: Are We So Different? see the exhibition home page:

New PhD Program at George Washington University

In contrast to our recent post about schools closing anthropological programs, we are pleased to find the Anthropology department at George Washington University to be flourishing to the point that they need to expand to a PhD program in Anthropology.

George Washington’s Anthropology Department was established in 1892. Faculty train students in the fields of Sociocultural Anthropology, Archaeology, Linguistic Anthropology and Biological Anthropology.

The department’s long-standing partnership with the Smithsonian and access to Washington, DC’s archival collections and influential policy-making institutions encourage intellectual creativity, effective communication and vigorous scholarship.

The department is seeking candidates with a strong background in anthropology or related disciplines. Contact Professor Richard Grinker or visit the website for more information. Applications will be accepted in the Fall of 2011.

Touring the Hall of Human Origins: A Visitor’s Impressions

By Guven Witteveen

On March 17 the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History unveiled the newest addition to their permanent exhibits: the Hall of Human Origins. Since this museum counts 7 million visitors a year (second only to the Louvre in 2009), we can expect lots of people from the US and abroad to weave their way through the innovative displays. I enjoyed my own recent visit to the exhibit, which yielded the below photos. This first panorama displays a timeline, where a giant arrow illuminated with an Earth view points to a simulation game in which players struggle with the many factors that imperil the continuation of human life.

Continue reading

Spring 2010 AnthroNotes Online + Video Podcast

A new issue of AnthroNotes is now online (download pdf). Managing editor Ann Kaupp notes, “In celebration of the opening of a new Human Origins Hall at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, the spring issue of AnthroNotes is a special, expanded issue focused entirely on human origins.” It includes articles by Human Origins Program Director Rick Potts, AnthroNotes editor and Smithsonian research associate Alison S. Brooks (GWU),  and Human Origins Program education and outreach specialist Briana Pobiner. Also see the NMNH Dept. of Anthro. webpage for back issues of AnthroNotes and staff video podcasts.

Smithsonian Event on “Understanding Climate’s Influence on Human Evolution”: Free to the Public, 3/31

The Smithsonian is hosting a free public event on March 31, 2010, 1:00-2:30pm in the Baird Auditorium (National Museum of Natural History), on “Understanding Climate’s Influence on Human Evolution.” At the talk, the National Research Council will announce findings from its recent report on this topic. The public is invited to participate in the Q&A that will follow, with Drs. Andrew Cohen (U Arizona), Peter deMenocal (Columbia U), David Feary (NRC), Andrew Hill (Yale U) and Rick Potts (Smithsonian). While you’re there you can also check out the new David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins.

Join an Online Conversation with Smithsonian Anthropology Curator Richard Potts

Skeleton comparison (l-r): Homo erectus, Australopithecus afarensis and Homo neanderthalensis (By Chip Clark, Smithsonian)

Want to participate in a discussion on the Smithsonian‘s new 15,000 sq. ft. David H Koch Hall of Human Origins, which chronicles human evolution over the past 6 million years? The Washington Post has announced that Richard Potts, paleoanthropologist and curator of anthropology, will be online today at 11:00 am ET to take questions and comments about the exhibit.  Submit your questions and comments before or during the discussion.

See also today’s Washington Post article and photo gallery on the exhibition hall, and the website for the Smithsonian’s Human Origins program.

NMNH “Hall of Human Origins” to Open 3/18

On March 18, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History will mark its 100th anniversary on the National Mall with the public opening of the 15,000 sq. ft. David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, the result of an international collaboration with over 60 research and educational organizations and over 100 researchers from around the world (including AAA members).

The exhibition hall “will offer visitors an immersive, interactive journey through the origins of human beings and the dramatic stories of survival and extinction in the midst of earth’s history of climate change.” It is one component of the “Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human?” initiative, which includes ongoing research and education programs, the book What Does It Mean to Be Human? (published by National Geographic in partnership with the Smithsonian), and a vibrant website with K-12 lesson plans and additional resources.

3/12 Correction: We originally listed the exhibit opening date as 3/17. The correct opening date for the public is 3/18.


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