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Planet Earth

Smithsonian Hall of Human Origins: Just Go

The LoomBy Carl ZimmerMay 16, 2010 7:27 AM

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Having come down to Washington this weekend to give a talk, I knew I had to get over to the Smithsonian's new Hall of Human Origins. The Smithsonian's Briana Pobiner was kind enough to take me around and tell me about what went into its creation. I suppose I could pretend to be a professional museum reviewer and present a lengthy description of the hall, tell you what I liked, give the obligatory "But nothing is ever perfect," indulge in some musings on the state of museumology, and on and on. But I'm the sort of person who stops reading a review of a movie or a book as soon as I realize that it sounds fantastic. I don't want to diminish the experience with rehashed details. So let me just say that if you find yourself on the Mall, just go. It's got a collection of casts and original fossils on a scale I've never seen before. It's got lifelike sculptures by John Gurche that helped me envision hominids more clearly than ever before. It's got elegant computer interfaces and movies. It's got casts of tiny 70,000-year-old snail shells pierced through to serve as jewelry. I'll shut up now. Just go. (The assortment of pictures here are from Chip Clark [the really good ones] and me and my Iphone [the really blurry ones])

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