Fort Worth Museum of Science and History Reverses Decision

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As was mentioned in a comment, the Star Telegram of the Fort Worth/Dallas area is reporting (reg. req) that the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History has reversed its decision not to show the Imax film Volcanoes of the Deep Sea because of evolutionary content.

Museum Director Van Romans, with the blessing of the board of directors, reversed the museum’s decision and said the film will open in Fort Worth “before summer.” The film is already being promoted on the museum’s Web site.

“We’re going to show things that have scientific credibility, and people can make their own decisions,” Romans said Wednesday. “That’s a very personal choice. But we are a science and history institution. We have a responsibility to the public to share with them.”

10 Comments

I, for one, emailed them and complained about their original decision. I also emailed the Science Center in my area (which has an IMAX) expressing my concern about censorship and asking what their policy was.

I just love it when people stand up and do the right thing.

I can’t wait for the creationists to start protesting the film – that’ll encourage even more people to go the movie.

The people who carry the placards around (usually with their kids in tow) represent the real “brains” behind all this nonsense. It’s useful to document their activities and gather as much information as possible from them about their beliefs and intentions. Then you can find out how far out on the fringes they really are.

And don’t forget to ask their kids to explain why they believe that evolutionary biologists are frauds – the look on their faces when you ask them that is worth a million bucks!

I hope everyone who sent the (righteously, IMHO) indignant notes to the Ft. Worth Museum will now send a note of thanks.

It’s a sort of prodigal son story, and we’re happy the museum is back in the fold.

It’s a nice museum, really, with some good stuff. I used it as a place to relax after the bar exams, years ago. Our kids – one heading off to college and the other close behind – dug for “fossils” in their digging exhibit.

And when you come out here to visit the science museum and see the IMAX film, do yourself a huge favor: Plan another day to stop at the Kimbell Museum of Art, the Amon Carter Museum of western art, and the Ft. Worth Museum of Modern Art. They are all within a two-block area, an easy walk from the Science Museum. Such a concentration of world-class art is unexpected here on the edge of the prairie, and worth a stop.

Yay! My son’s there on a school field trip this very afternoon. Maybe I’ll take both my kids there some weekend soon … In fact, I will. We can see Volcanoes of the Deep Sea once it starts playing. Mail supporting their decision is great, but customers actually showing up to their presentation will have more of an effect, I’ll bet.

Great White Wonder Wrote:

I just love it when people stand up and do the right thing.

Even if it’s due to public ridicule instead of moral fibre.

I live in Minnesota. I had written to the two local IMAX theater locations (one attached to the Science Museum of Minnesota, the other to the Minnesota Zoo) and asked them for their response to the original article, with the idea that I might write an op-ed piece. The St. Paul Pioneer Press film critic, Chris Hewitt, beat me to idea and did a nice, brief article on the controversy. I sent him the following email to thank him:

Thanks so much for your piece on the Science Museum of Minnesota in today’s paper. This is an issue that greatly concerned me. So much so that I wrote to the museum (they alerted me to your piece) and also to the Imax Omnitheater at the Minnesota Zoo. I thought you might be interested in the response I received from the Apply Valley theater, from a Karin Snortland:

“Our film programming is based on our projections on the success of the film. Many of our films are very scientific, containing references to evolution. Although we do receive some complaints, we receive more accolades.”

In a follow-up email that Ms. Snortland wrote after I expressed some concern that large-format Hollywood movies might be squeezing out science-oriented movies altogether…she said this:

“We will not be forgoing traditional IMAX films to make way for Hollywood ones. We are one of the few theatres actually owned by IMAX Corp. and will continue to receive great documentaries to fulfill our mission of educating and entertaining. Although Hollywood films do draw large crowds, group business is extremely important to the health of our theatre and will continue to be a large focus.…”Volcanoes of the Deep” is currently playing in our chain and there is a possibility we will program that in 2006.”

I also wrote to the IMAX corporation, and received this email back from Jackson Myers:

“The IMAX(R) theatres recently cited in the press are independently owned and operated – as are nearly all of the theatres in the worldwide IMAX theatre network. All of these theatres make their own programming choices. IMAX Corporation is committed to producing and encouraging others to develop a wide variety of film content for IMAX theatres to choose from.”

On behalf of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, we are writing to let you know how much we sincerely appreciate your interest in the Museum and the programs and films we show at the Omni Theater. In light of the current interest in the film, Volcanoes of the Deep Sea, the Museum will be showing the film, which will open soon. Please check our website, www.fortworthmuseum.org, for specific show times.

The original decision not to show the film for a variety of reasons received coverage in The New York Times and in the Star-Telegram on Saturday, March 19, 2005. The articles focused on IMAX theaters not showing movies that mention evolution for fear of offending people who would object. Readers of the articles understandably gained the impression that the Museum lacks the willingness to present scientific viewpoints in an uncensored environment, which is incorrect.

The results of a survey taken after prescreening Volcanoes revealed that several individuals were concerned about its references to evolution; however, the Museum would like to set the record straight: Those concerns were not the determining factor as to why we did not show the film. The survey indicated that the film simply did not have the potential for broad audience interest compared to other films under consideration at the time. Importantly, we also want you to know that the Omni Theater has also shown Cosmic Voyage and is currently showing Aliens of the Deep, which presents much of the same science as Volcanoes of the Deep Sea.

We want to ensure that you know the Museum supports the position that evolution is a major unifying concept of science. We use scientific evidence in our wide-ranging presentations and interpretations of how life has changed over time. But we also want you to know that the Museum respects the beliefs of its guests and acknowledges that they are able to make their own decisions about science-related programs.

Again, thank you for your interest in the Museum. We welcome you to come and see Volcanoes of the Deep Sea this April.

Sincerely Yours,

Your Friends at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

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This is indeed good news. I got the same note in response to my email. We tend to forget that science is still regarded as an honorable profession by large parts of the public, since we get so much creationist nonsense in the PT comments pages. Need I say this is also an obligation to behave responsibly, and not just on this issue?

I had also emailed the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History since I had seen a movie at their Omni theater. I was pleased to see that they reversed their decision. I’m now encouraged to lend my support to the cause of proper science education and better access to scientific knowledge for the public. The survey published in the November 2004 National Geographic “Was Darwin Wrong?”, was a real eye-opener for me with such a large number in doubt about evolution. It’s not too late, however, to turn the tide from the current fundamentalist/creationist nonscience and let thinking, educated people regain their influence in the country.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Reed A. Cartwright published on March 24, 2005 1:28 PM.

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