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Raleigh museum explores race through history, science

Posted April 19

It's a mad dash to the finish at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, where they are putting the final touches on a touring exhibit that explores race in America.

In exploring hundreds of years of complex history and manipulated science, it asks: Are we so different?

Veteran Head of Exhibitions Jody Stebben said pulling all the pieces together proved to be a challenge.

"We have to deep dive into it like: What is this about? Where should it go? Then we move things around for how we want to tell the story," she said.

Senior Exhibit Developer Wendy Lovelady says what might seem like an "out of place" exhibit for a science museum actually fits in perfectly.

"Most important for us is the scientific underpinnings of some of the assumptions we make about race and how some of those scientific underpinnings are out of date or misinformed," she said.

Stebben says the exhibit is told in sections.

"The first part is a touch of science – what we know of why are we different colors," she said.

It then moves into how race became a social construct and the implications of that, from enslavement to inequalities in society today.

"It affected all aspects of life in America," Stebben said.

The exhibit is text heavy and very interactive, with videos and games for small children.

There are chairs situated throughout for those who want to pause and take time with the material.

In North Carolina, the Museum of Natural Sciences added a local touch to the traveling exhibit. The Think Space is designed allow visitors to have open and honest conversations about race with total strangers.

"I hope the people who come here really experience a transformation from beginning to end," Stebben said.

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