Smithsonian to open Human Origins Hall

In spite of the Disco ‘Tute’s recent efforts to imply that the Smithsonian Institution is somehow sympathetic to anti-evolutionist films, the stodgy old place persists in being a place where evolution education is important. Most recently it has announced (pdf of press release) the upcoming opening of a new exhibition hall devoted to human origins:

A new exhibition hall dedicated to the discovery and understanding of human origins will open next year at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Based on decades of cutting-edge research by Smithsonian scientists, the David H. Koch (pronounced “coke”) Hall of Human Origins will premiere March 17, 2010, which also marks the 100-year anniversary of the museum’s official opening on the National Mall.

The $20.7 million exhibition hall will be complemented by ongoing human origins research and education programs, which are all key components of the museum’s broader initiative, “Human Origins: What Does It Mean to Be Human?” The initiative focuses on the epic story of human evolution and how the defining characteristics of the species have evolved over 6 million years as its ancestors adapted to a changing world. The museum will launch a compelling new Smithsonian Human Origins Web site and a revolutionary virtual experience hosted on the Blue Mars 2150 virtual Web site. It will include a complete reproduction of the physical exhibition plus additional features visitors can only experience on the Web.

It’s noteworthy that the main funding is coming from two people with science and engineering backgrounds, the eponymous David H. Koch, a chemical engineer and executive vice president of Koch Industries, and Peter Buck, a physicist and co-founder of Subway restaurants. It’s good to see there’s significant science philanthropy to offset the likes of Howard Ahmanson, a major funder of the Disco ‘Tute.