The Smithsonian has opened a new permanent Hall of Human Origins exhibit, which means I need to get out to Washington DC sometime. Unfortunately, it gets a mixed review from Greg Mayer. It sounds like the museum faced the standard dilemma of whether to emphasize information or interaction, and parts of the exhibit steered a little too far in the direction of interactive fluffiness. It also has some underlying weirdness: the hall was funded by a Tea Party bigwig, David Koch, and it also had a “Broader Social Impacts Committee” of mostly religious advisors, which is just plain odd — what was their purpose? Was the USNM trying to intentionally filter the information, somehow?
Jerry Coyne looks a little deeper at that part of the exhibit, and there is a lesser subtone of pandering to religion, and while it doesn’t overwhelm the story at all, there’s still an element of turning an exhibit on the science of evolution into an opportunity to promote theology. Which may partly explain why a wealthy kook like Koch was willing to throw money at it.