Nineteen public libraries selected to host ‘Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human?’ traveling exhibition

For Immediate Release
Tue, 02/17/2015


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office


CHICAGO — Nineteen U.S. public libraries have been selected to host the traveling exhibition Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human?, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) and American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office have announced.

Based on the Smithsonian’s What Does It Mean to Be Human? exhibition at the NMNH, Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human seeks to shed light on what we know about human origins and how we know it. The exhibition welcomes different cultural perspectives on evolution and seeks to foster positive dialogue and a respectful exploration of the science.

The selected libraries represent a range of communities, from small towns like Andover, Ohio (population approximately 1,100) to larger cities like Spokane, Washington (population about 210,000) and Orlando, Florida (population about 240,000). To view the list of selected sites, visit

Through panels, interactive kiosks, hands-on displays and videos, the exhibition invites audiences to explore milestones in the evolutionary journey of becoming human — from walking upright, creating technology and eating new foods, to brain enlargement and the development of symbolic language and complex societies — advancements that define the unique position of humans in the history of life.

The sites will host the 1,200-square-foot exhibition for four weeks each between April 2015 and April 2017. The exhibition will be accompanied at each location by a series of free library programs, including presentations by Smithsonian scientists.

Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human? was organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in collaboration with the American Library Association Public Programs Office. This project was made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and support from the Peter Buck Human Origins Fund.

About ALA’s Public Programs Office

ALA’s Public Programs Office provides leadership, resources, training and networking opportunities that help thousands of librarians nationwide develop and host cultural programs for adult, young adult and family audiences. The mission of the ALA Public Programs Office is to promote cultural programming as an essential part of library service in all types of libraries. Projects include book and film discussion series, literary and cultural programs featuring authors and artists, professional development opportunities and traveling exhibitions. School, public, academic and special libraries nationwide benefit from the office’s programming initiatives.

About the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History

The National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) is part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s preeminent museum and research complex. The museum is dedicated to inspiring curiosity, discovery and learning about the natural world through its unparalleled research, collections, exhibitions, and education outreach programs. Opened in 1910, the Natural History Museum on the National Mall was among the first Smithsonian buildings constructed exclusively to house the national collections and research facilities.