New Penn evolution exhibit, and the "Year of Evolution"

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has just opened a new exhibit on human evolution, titled "Surviving: The Body of Evidence." An online article by Janet Monge and Alan Mann explains the idea of the exhibit and its unique emphasis:

The genesis of the idea came from Alan Mann's realization that students seemed to understand the broad impact of evolutionary process if they could witness it for themselves in their own bodies and minds. In order to evoke this response in the context of the exhibit, we challenge visitors to try to understand and define what it means to be human -- to revel in the experience of humanness. We ask them to witness the evolutionary process and to contextualize the human experience. This part of the exhibit is peppered with over 200 touchable casts of both modern and extinct mammals and primates, including many of our human ancestors, our chimp relatives, and even comparisons to horses and whales.
Visitors are now ready to see evolutionary history in their own bodies. Using multimedia devices surrounding a massive model of a woman's body, they see themselves not as perfect or perfectible beings, but as animals dealing with the various medical dilemmas that characterize the shared human experience -- bad backs, difficult childbirths, teeth that do not fit in our jaws, as well as many other maladies that are best understood from an evolutionary perspective.

Janet very kindly sent me links to the exhibit's online components. This page discusses the "Year of Evolution," an observance involving many Philadelphia institutions leading up to Darwin's 200th birthday.

Meanwhile, the "Surviving" exhibit's online site provides an interactive overview of several of the exhibit's areas, short videos that present perspectives on human anatomy, and other multimedia compositions. A great introductory video starts with kids' perspectives on evolution and the future -- a nice way to contextualize the exhibit's importance for evolution education. Another multimedia piece presents four of the scientists crucial to building modern biology, and provides audio put into their own voices that describes some of their contributions. Educators may appreciate the inclusion of Rosalind Franklin and Mary Leakey along with the more stodgy-looking Linnaeus and Darwin.

I think it's a neat site to look at if you're thinking about planning projects for teaching evolutionary biology, or to share with students.