Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code – Bio on the Mall, Part 3

Before I left the National Museum of Natural History last Thursday, I stopped in at one of the temporary exhibits, Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code. This is a fascinating exhibit on what genes and genomes are, what they do, and their growing role in our society. It begins by teaching some basic genetics, and then moves on to subjects like the human genome project, personalized medicine, and the ethics of genome science.

Like the Human Origins Hall, which I talked about in Monday’s post, Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code is a very interactive exhibit. There are buttons, touchscreens, and projector screens that allow visitors to explore questions on genomic biology, ethics, and medicine. At one station, visitors can participate in an opinion poll on genome ethics. Do you think corporations should be allowed to profit from an individual’s genetic information? What are your opinions on expensive personalized medicine? It is this intersection between science and society that makes the exhibit so interesting – not only does it teach visitors about genetics, but it also relates that science to their lives.

This exhibit is fun for individuals and families who are interested in learning what a genome is and why it’s important. Children too young to understand the more sophisticated aspects of the exhibit will still enjoy the Genome Zone, an activities and crafts section for kids. You can also look up special events at the exhibit. For example, for a couple of hours tomorrow (Thursday, July 25) you can visit the Genome Zone and talk with Dr. Sean Brady, an entomologist who studies the lives of bees and ants.

Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code will be at the National Museum of Natural History until September 1st, after which it goes on tour around the United States as a traveling exhibit. If you can’t make it to D.C. or one of the exhibit’s future sites, you can learn more at the exhibit web site.

Have you visited Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code? What do you think about the role of genetics in society? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!