Magazine article Natural History

Voyage of Engagement

Magazine article Natural History

Voyage of Engagement

Article excerpt

Even before Jared Diamond completed the manuscript for his latest book. Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, I met with him and several of my colleagues at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County to explore the idea of creating an exhibition that would feature some of the key results from his research. But how were we to take some of the ideas from a 500-plus-page book and create an engaging experience for our visitors?

Museums typically tell stories through their collections. The focus of this exhibition, however, was to be on ideas, particularly the relation between society and its environment, which objects and specimens might be able to convey only indirectly. We decided to bring our collections to life amid rich and diverse settings-the temples of the ancient Maya, for instance, or a seventeenth-century Japanese interior-to which we would add provocative sound and video presentations and an original series of giant-size cartoons. An essential strategy for fulfilling our vision was to assemble a team of highly skilled and experienced professionals-museum curators, an architect-designer, a videographer, an interpretive specialist, and others-who could collectively invent a unique exhibition to serve our diverse audience.

As a scientific institution, a natural history museum has a responsibility to allow different voices to be heard and to enable visitors to appreciate the complexities of debate, particularly on issues such as the environmental challenges we face today. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.