National Museum of Natural History plans human genome exhibition

May 22, 2012

The National Museum of Natural History has a little bit of everything — here are the Pink Cattleheart, left, and Postman butterflies. In 2013 the museum plans to add an exhibition on the human genome. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

The National Museum of Natural History has been the prime location for intricate displays of the scientists’ work. Now the museum has partnered with the National Human Genome Research Institute of NIH to develop an exhibit about a scientific breakthrough that is still a mystery to most of the public.

In June 2013, the museum will mark the 10th anniversary of the first complete sequencing of the human genome — the blueprint of human biology — with a new exhibition. The exhibition will be partially funded with a $3 million pledge from Life Technologies Foundation, the charitable division of Life Technologies Corp.

Additional funding of more than $500,000 from a variety of donors is coming from the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health. The exhibit, said organizers, will include discussions of the ethical questions raised in modern research.

Cristian Samper, a biologist and the museum director, called the exhibition a “landmark scientific event.” In a statement, Samper said, “The Human Genome Project has empowered not just a revolution in medicine, but a revolution in biotechnology, evolutionary biology, ecology and conservation, all of which are central to Smithsonian research.”

The museum plans to take the exhibition on the road after a year on the National Mall.

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