Last April I found myself on the stage of Carnegie Music Hall, questioning Pulitzer Prize- and National Book Award-winning novelist Annie Proulx about why it’s important for writers of fiction to tell stories about humanity’s relationship to nature. That evening was part of an extended event series, Carnegie Nexus’ Strange Times: Earth in the Age of the Human, in which artists and scientists of all stripes, curators, historians, actors, and even puppeteers presented their perspectives on the ways human life is transforming our planet.
Relatively few social institutions are dedicated to engaging the general public in such thoughtful, wide-ranging, well-informed discussions on issues of current importance. At the core of my vision for Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is the belief that—individually and collectively—our museums must be among those institutions taking a leadership role in this kind of thought-provoking work. As trusted community resources, museums have an essential role to play in connecting the public with collections, information, and expertise that shed light on issues that are on everyone’s minds today.
Carnegie Museum of Natural History is now adding a focus on telling the story of the earth’s present as well as imagining its future.
We Are Nature: Living in the Anthropocene, Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s upcoming exhibition and the topic of this issue’s cover story, will give visitors a deep dive into this far-reaching topic. While scientists worldwide continue to debate the Anthropocene as a newly defined geological era, Carnegie Museum of Natural History will be among those leading public discussions of this issue.
We all know the importance of our natural history museum in telling the story of the earth’s deep past. Generations of Pittsburghers are familiar with dinosaurs, geological eras, and life in ancient Egypt because of its exhibitions. While maintaining that proud tradition, Carnegie Museum of Natural History is now adding a focus on telling the story of the earth’s present as well as imagining its future. Through research into the Anthropocene, we’re inviting visitors into essential discussions about changes observed in the earth and its weather patterns, the interconnectivity of humanity and nature, and the various ways scientists study and understand the impact of human activity on the natural world.
We Are Nature will be a fascinating exhibition—the first of its kind in North America—and yet another inspiring example of the power of museums to speak to our most pressing current concerns.
Jo Ellen Parker
President & CEO
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh
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