I am a museum geek. And proud of it. I love museums. Especially when they’re free and as awesome as the Smithsonian. I have many a fond memory of field trips to D.C., wandering the National Mall and exploring such intriguing pieces as this hugemongous man at the Hirshhorn, Dorothy’s ruby slippers at the Museum of American History, and the Hope Diamond at the Museum of Natural History.
So it was with great interest (and nerdy glee) that I read about the Smithsonian opening a pair of exhibits on climate change. Part of the Natural History Museum’s “Forces of Change” series, the two exhibitions — “Arctic: A Friend Acting Strangely” and “Atmosphere: Change is in the Air” — focus on the science of climate change using graphics, film shorts, interactive computer displays, and, uh, not-so-interactive stuffed caribou.
I haven’t seen the exhibits, so I can’t comment on the cool factor — have any of you seen them yet? The exhibits will remain at the museum until November, so you’ve still got time. I highly recommend a visit on a muggy D.C. day (they have AC!).
I’d be remiss in my reporting if I didn’t also mention Joel Achenbach’s blog post on the exhibits (pointed out to me by the museum staffer who sent me the photo above). Joel’s actually been to see the exhibits, and didn’t have many nice things to say about it. His post is quite funny — “There are no wall texts saying, for example, ‘Because you drove to the museum in a gas-guzzling beast of an automobile, a reindeer just died.'” — but he says the museum doesn’t acknowledge the controversy surrounding climate change. A point I’d have to argue with, seeing as how I don’t think a science-based exhibit should have to acknowledge the controversy. A Smithsonian staffer quoted in the WP article says it best:
While some government scientists have reported political pressure to limit their comments on climate change, Robert Sullivan, the museum’s associate director for public programs, said that did not happen in the development of this exhibit.
“Here’s the data,” Sullivan said. “This is not a political position, it’s just scientific data.”
“There have been some suggestions that the data is unclear; well, the data is not unclear.”