For immediate release | September 12, 2022

ALA, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Invite Public Libraries to Host Traveling Exhibition on Human Evolution

CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA), in collaboration with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History’s (NMNH) Human Origins Program, invites applications from public libraries interested in hosting the traveling exhibition Exploring Human Origins: Promoting a National Conversation on Human Evolution.

ALA will accept applications from September 12 to November 7, 2022. Learn more and apply online.

Six public libraries will be selected for the national tour. Working with leading scientists from the NMNH Human Origins Program, the libraries will engage audiences across a wide spectrum — from those who do not question the scientific study of human origins to those who are troubled by its findings — to engage the complex field of human evolution research in ways that are understandable, fulfilling, captivating and relevant.

Through panels, interactive kiosks, hands-on displays and videos, the traveling 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 traveling exhibition is based on the exhibition that opened at the NMNH in 2010 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the museum. The goal of the exhibition is to encourage a public conversation that focuses on multiple perspectives on what it means to be human— one that embraces the ideas and beliefs of non-scientists and fosters greater appreciation of the complexity of the science of human evolution.

Selected libraries will receive:

  • The traveling exhibition for a six- to nine-week loan period
  • $1,000 to support programming
  • Presentation of three to four programs at each site by the NMNH Human Origins Program (at no cost to host sites)
  • A set of five early human skull replicas, which may be circulated to local science educators
  • Virtual training on exhibition content and exhibition set-up
  • Extensive online and printed program resources
  • Programming and technical support from ALA staff

In addition to hosting the exhibition, selected libraries will host a formal opening event and create a project consultation panel comprised of community members to serve as advisors for developing local programs and conducting community discussions about evolution, among other requirements. Learn more about benefits and requirements for selected sites.

Exploring Human Origins: Promoting a National Conversation on Human Evolution will be administered by the ALA Public Programs Office. To stay informed about other ALA traveling exhibitions, grant opportunities, and professional development from the Public Programs Office, sign up for our newsletter.

About the American Library Association

The American Library Association (ALA) is the foremost national organization providing resources to inspire library and information professionals to transform their communities through essential programs and services. For more than 140 years, the ALA has been the trusted voice for academic, public, school, government, and special libraries, advocating for the profession and the library’s role in enhancing learning and ensuring access to information for all. For more information, visit

About the National Museum of Natural History

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, located at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C., is one of the most visited natural history museums in the world. Opened in 1910, the museum houses the world’s largest collection of natural history specimens and artifacts. The museum is open daily (closed Dec. 25) from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, visit the museum on its website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.



Hannah Arata

Communications Specialist

American Library Association

Public Programs Office