The Museum of Science in Boston has a new exhibit up, called “Race: Are We So Different?”, running through March 15. I went to check it out.
The amount of information the exhibit tries to pack into one room is a bit overwhelming. It’s trying to address race from biological, legal/social, and personal view points. There’s a lot of simultaneously running videos that makes it feel like you’re constantly in the middle of a crowd. There’s also a lot of small text.
If you’ve spent time with race and ethnic studies, you’ll recognize a lot of what they’re doing– establishing that racism was legally acceptable until quite recently, that the current attempts to bring back a biological definition of race through medicine are bogus, and that race hurts people deeply. You’ll recognize a lot of the information presented– court cases like Ozawa v. US, US v. Thind, red lining, and blood quantums in Native American tribes.
If you’re really invested in looking at the exhibit, there’s a lot that you can get out of it. If you’re not sure what you’re looking at, it’s a bit trickier. It’s hard to tell how all of the pieces link together, since none of the stations build on or reference each other. It feels a bit like walking through a school science fair.
The exhibit is worth going to see, but I wish someone had made me a worksheet or a scavenger hunt to complete while I was in there, so that I had a better sense of what was what.