Raleigh students get sneak peek at new race exhibit
Posted April 20
Raleigh, N.C. — A lot is made of what separates us – religion, political party, skin color. The lesson of a new exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Sciences is about similarities, and on Thursday, eighth graders from Exploris Middle School got an advance peek.
They were guests at the premiere of the museum's new traveling exhibit, "RACE: Are we so different?"
"I think that people will leave this exhibit with more empathy for one another," said Wendy Lovelady, senior exhibit developer.
Jessalyn Barton and other students found plenty to learn, and they explored the wrongheaded lessons of the past.
"It says that doctors used to say if you were a race you were your own species," Jessalyn said.
Lovelady showed the students that "the idea that skull size somehow correlates to intelligence" was not debunked until 1981.
The exhibit demonstrates many ways science was twisted to justify something like the purging of land from Native Americans.
Museum officials said the goal isn't to make one race feel bad, it's to open up a dialogue.
"You might feel a little guilty or a little uncomfortable in the beginning, but by the end I think your feelings are transformed into something a lot more positive," Lovelady said.
The exhibit ends with a room, called the Think Space, designed solely for conversation. Inside, visitors are asked to take the "Penny Pledge." They put a penny in next to the statement that reflects a change they might make – such as treating people with respect – and turn that pledge into action in daily life.
The exhibit opens on Saturday, April 22, and runs through Oct. 22. Admission is free, but a ticket is required.