How Museums Can Help the Public Make Sense of Pandemics

Republished by ECBN from: Smithsonian Magazine

The “Outbreak” exhibition of the Smithsonian Museum is joining other efforts to combat misinformation about COVID-19 on multiple fronts. Importantly, visitors are being provided with access to credible and relevant information through volunteers, public programs and forthcoming content updates. In “Outbreak” the public can learn best available evidence on transmission and protection, understand what “novel” means from a scientific perspective, and contextualize this new coronavirus among other emerging infectious diseases of recent years.  People need information that demystifies the emergence and spread of new diseases and shows their agency at every stage, from outbreak to pandemic.

Museums are a powerful space for these experiences, but they canand shouldhappen everywhere. For this reason, the “Outbreak” exhibition is available in a free do-it-yourself version to help communities raise awareness and communicate risks themselves. As “Outbreak DIY” expands among hundreds of host organizations and dozens of countries, customized and translated with local stories and languages, people have even more opportunities to use science to guide their personal actions against pandemic threats present and future. “Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World” is on view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History through 2021.

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