GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Florida Museum of Natural History’s newest exhibit showcases the contributions of Black people to natural history with a scavenger hunt.
Produced by the Black in Natural History Museums organization, the exhibit consists of 17 profiles that feature modern and historical researchers, artists and curators across eight fields of research. Profiles are placed throughout the museum near a relevant exhibit and highlight the experiences and contributions of each person.
“This exhibit is a true celebration of those Black and brown people I often do not see in museums,” said Adania Flemming, president of Black in Natural History Museums and doctoral candidate in the University of Florida’s department of biology. “Alnycea Blackwell’s work as the graphic designer for this exhibit, our logo and all aspects of marketing for our organization continue to inspire me, and I hope it inspires everyone, particularly members of the African diaspora, who may not be scientists but occupy other fields such as science communication where they get to enjoy the wonder that is natural history.”
In addition to celebrating their accomplishments, the gallery also notes the harsh challenges and adversity faced by the people being featured. The profiles include historical figures like John Edmonstone, a former enslaved person who taught taxidermy to Charles Darwin; Margaret Collins, the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in entomology; and people active today, like mammologist Brandon Kilbourne and wildlife ecologist Rae Wynn-Grant.
The exhibit also gives a behind-the-scenes look at the organization that created it. Founded in 2021, Black in Natural History Museums began as a week-long online event featuring talks, discussions and workshops. Part of those discussions centered on Black historical figures who made lasting contributions to the field. To celebrate its third year, the organization decided to expand on this idea and create a physical exhibit.
“Because the initiative started during the pandemic, and members are from all over the world, it really has been a virtual thing up until now,” said Leanne Melbourne, vice-president of membership and events and postdoctoral fellow at the American Museum of Natural History. “The exhibit is really the first in-person event, and we hope it is the first of many to attract a different type of audience and showcase who we are, what we do and highlight some really cool Black natural historians.”
This year’s Black in Natural History Museums Week takes place from Oct. 15 to Oct. 21. For more information on the organization, visit www.blackinnhms.org.
The exhibit will be on display for the remainder of 2023. For more information on the exhibit, visit www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/exhibits/black-in-nhms.
Writer: Nikhil Srinivasan, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Adania Flemming, email@example.com; Leanne Melbourne, firstname.lastname@example.org; Alnycea Blackwell, email@example.com
Media Contact: Kaitlin Gardiner, firstname.lastname@example.org