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News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Springfield to Host Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

A Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition is making its way to Springfield, premiering next week at the Library Center.

“Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human?” will be held May 9-June 2. Jessie East is the center’s branch manager.

“The American Library Association partnered with the Smithsonian to provide grant opportunities for libraries to host this display. We were awarded the grant. We were one of only 19 cities across the country that were awarded this grant,” said East. 

The purpose of the exhibit is to trace the evolution of human beings, according to The Library Center’s website. It will consist of a series of panels, interactive kiosks, hands-on displays and videos. These will cover, among other things, when humans began walking upright, brain enlargement, and the development of symbolic language and complex societies. 

“It brings a resource to our community that people otherwise would not have access to. And as librarians, we’re all about providing access to materials and resources.”  

The exhibit begins with a panel discussion hosted by Dr. Rick Potts, a paleoanthropologist and one of the curators of the exhibit. He will explain how fossils, archaeological remains and genetic studies connect humans to the natural world. 

The exhibit also features activities for children in the form of a cave painting exhibit, tracing early human art and displaying how humans recorded history before the development of written language. 

“We are going to make materials available in our story hour room. We’re gonna dim the lights so it will seem like a cave. We’re gonna give them art supplies that would mimic the experience of drawing on a cave wall for them.”

One of the highlighted events is a rock concert, held from 7-9 p.m. on May 14, according to East. Attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair, as the concert will be held on The Library Center patio. 

On May 17, East says scientists and religious leaders from the community will host a panel to discuss the link between faith and science, and how it pertains to the community. The panel will be mediated by Brian Fogle, president and CEO of Community Foundation of the Ozarks. 

Exploring Human Origins is free and open to the public. 

The Library Center is located at 4653 S. Campbell Ave.