New exhibit exploring race opens at Chicago History Museum

Talking about race is an important part of parenting in today’s world, but it’s not always an easy topic to broach with kids. A new exhibit that examines issues of race opens at the Chicago History Museum on Nov. 11 and it can be a great way to learn more about race and serve as the starting point for meaningful conversations with your kids. 

Titled RACE: Are We So Different?, the exhibition is the first national exhibition to look at race from biological and historical perspectives, as well as examine how race impacts our cultural institutions. Those are the three themes of the exhibit, which was developed by the American Anthropological Association in collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota.The multi-prong approach is powerful and can answer a wide variety of questions kids may have as well as help them understand the complexities of race.

The museum’s website says the exhibit is intended to be “a safe space in which to explore the natural and social science perspectives of race” and it does so using several interactive features. One activity has visitors scan their skin, and which yields a “color chip” on a computer screen that becomes part of a mosaic of chips from other visitors. 

Another activity involves matching voices with photos. Often, people are surprised by the unexpected results. There are also a few videos, one featuring high school students from St. Paul, MN talking about how their perspectives on race differ from their parents.

An exploration of the U.S. Census also helps visitor see how the concept of race has morphed over time and as a result of political and social forces.

To go with the exhibit, the Chicago History Museum says it plans to host educational programs aimed at middle and high schoolers that will facilitate conversations about the history of race in Chicago and how it impacts their lives.

If you go

Chicago History Museum

1601 N. Clark St

Nov. 11, 2017 through July 15, 2018

Hours: 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. on Mon., Wed.-Sat.; 9:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. on Tues.; 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. on Sun.

Admission: $16 adults, $14 for students, kids 12 and under free (RACE: Are We So Different? is included in general admission)

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