The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC – one of the most-visited natural history museums in the world – has a new exhibition on one of our favorite topics: outbreaks! And this month, we got a chance to check it out.
The exhibition, called Outbreak: Epidemics in a Connected World, shows how viruses spread from animals to people, why some outbreaks become epidemics, and how people in different countries are working together to stop them.
But it’s not just a normal museum exhibition! It’s packed with interactive games that challenge visitors to see if they can help identify or contain an outbreak, infectious disease case studies, and personal stories from epidemic-fighters around the world. We really had a good time and enjoyed seeing other museum visitors interacting with the information and games.
Why the Focus on Outbreaks?
2018 was the 100 year anniversary of one of the worst pandemics ever – the Great Influenza – which took the lives of 50 to 100 million people (3 – 5 % of the world’s population at that time). So the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History chose to mark that important anniversary with this new exhibition.
Sabrina Sholts, lead curator of the exhibition said, “We see this as an extraordinary opportunity to raise awareness about pandemic risks and keep everyone safer in our connected world. Visitors get a clear understanding of how we can prevent viruses like Ebola, Zika, and influenza from emerging and spreading around the world.”
Take it from us, the Outbreak exhibition at this Smithsonian museum is a really fun way to understand the public health threats people around the world are facing and how we can prevent them. So if you have a chance to visit Washington DC, check it out!
It will be on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History until May 2021. More pictures below.