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It's a simple truth.

People are different. Throughout history, these differences have been a source of community strength and personal identity. They have also been the basis for discrimination and oppression.

The idea of "race" has been used historically to describe these differences and justify mistreatment of people and even genocide. Today, contemporary scientific understanding of human variation is beginning to challenge "racial" differences, and even question the very concept of race.

RACE: Are We So Different?, developed by the American Anthropological Association in collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota, is the first national exhibition to tell the stories of race from the biological, cultural, and historical points of view. Combining these perspectives offers an unprecedented look at race and racism in the United States.

Let's talk about RACE at the Smithsonian

people standing and having a group discussion
In conjunction with the exhibition RACE: Are We So Different? currently on view at the National Museum of Natural History (June 18, 2011 to January 8, 2012), the Smithsonian is creating programming throughout its various museums and learning centers that supports public conversations about this important topic.

Learn more about the Smithsonian Initiative >

Understanding Race

Visitors to RACE: Are We So Different? will meet trained volunteers there to encourage dialogue and reflection, answer questions, and help visitors explore the exhibition. We hope you enjoy getting to know them.

Race exhibit Volunteer: Olivia Smith-Elnaggar

Name: Olivia Smith-Elnaggar

“I am a sophomore at George Washington University where I study English, with aspirations of writing and editing novels after attending graduate school. I am a black, Muslim woman starting to find my voice and stand on issues like racism and fear of the unknown. The National Museum of Natural History is my favorite of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museums, and I think that it is ideal as a venue for such a controversial and universally perplexing topic as "Race." I hope to be a positive influence in the discussion and to challenge some persisting misconceptions in visitors.”

Understanding Race

A collage of different human facial features to form a composite face Learn more about the history of race in America, the science of human variation, and more.

Visit, the RACE Project website >

Family Activities
October 21st NMNH Family Activities Flyer
Download flyer of family activities occuring October 21st at the National Museum of Natural History.

Upcoming Related Events

More events >

Upcoming Related Events
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Learn More About Race
Special issue of AnthroNotes, the National Museum of Natural History's anthropology publication for educators.

Read a special issue of AnthroNotes, the National Museum of Natural History's anthropology publication for educators, published in conjunction with the RACE exhibit (PDF).

Access other related resources >

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