Genome: Unlocking Lifes Code - A Museum Exhibition as a Model for Informal Genomics Education. V. Bonham, C. Easter, E. Schonman, C. Daulton, R. Wise, B. Hurle, J. Witherly Education and Community Involvement Branch, NHGRI/NIH, Bethesda, MD.
Interactive, hands-on, and high-tech science museum exhibits and associated programs have the power to bring the sciences to life for large numbers of the public, to foster science literacy, and to help garner public support for scientific and health research. In 2011, the National Human Genome Research Institute and Smithsonian Institutions National Museum of Natural History partnered to create an innovative exhibitGenome: Unlocking Lifes Codeto give the public a window into genomic science. The exhibition, which opened in 2013, introduces the public to the role that genomics plays in their lives, in understanding health risks, disease, and treatment, our human origins, and how humans fit in as members of a family and a species in the natural world. Throughout the exhibition, the public is also asked to explore the ethical, legal, and social concerns raised by genomic science. As of June 2014, 2.5 million people have visited the exhibition while on view at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. To measure the impact of the exhibit on museumgoers, evaluations were conducted by the Smithsonian Institutions Office of Policy and Analysis in Summer 2013. These included a survey of 377 visitors entering the exhibit, a survey of 462 visitors exiting the exhibit, 33 in-depth interviews, and observations of 100 visitors as they walked through the exhibit. Quantitative and qualitative visitor responses were overwhelmingly positive, and qualitative results indicate a deepened appreciation and interest in genomics. Results also indicate that interactive aspects of the exhibit - with both volunteers and digital and mechanical interactives, such as computer touch screens, visual media, and quiz-like activities - led visitors to strongly reflect on the implications of genomic science. These evaluative results shed light on the role that informal science education can play in increasing genomic literacy, knowledge, and interest within the public.
You may contact the first author (during and after the meeting) at