ALA, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History announce ‘Exploring Human Origins’ traveling exhibition opportunity

For Immediate Release
Tue, 08/19/2014


Sarah Ostman

Communications Manager

ALA Public Programs Office


CHICAGO — The American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office, in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) Human Origins Program, is accepting applications for the traveling exhibition Exploring Human Origins.   

The exhibition seeks to create an opportunity for a wide spectrum of audiences to engage the complex field of human evolution research in ways that are understandable, fulfilling, captivating and relevant.

The opportunity is open to public libraries. Nineteen sites will be selected to host the 40-panel, 1,200-square-foot exhibition for four weeks each between April 2015 and April 2017. The exhibition will include at least two interactive kiosks, a display of skulls and two DVDs.

Full guidelines and an online application are available at The application deadline is Nov. 19.

Exploring Human Origins is made possible through the support of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Through panels, interactive kiosks, hands-on displays and videos, Exploring Human Origins 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 — milestones that define the unique position of humans in the history of life.

In addition to the traveling exhibition and all shipping costs, selected sites will receive a $500 programming support grant; presentation of three or four programs by members of the Human Origins Program and its Broader Social Impacts Committee; and a variety of educational materials and support.

Sites will be required to host several related public programs, including an exhibition opening and community conversations. Sites must also convene a panel of community members to serve as advisors for developing local programs.

The traveling exhibition is based on the Smithsonian exhibition What Does It Mean to Be Human?, which opened in 2010; over 20 million people have visited the Hall of Human Origins exhibition since its opening.

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.