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Smithsonian genome exhibition mapping a path to Rochester Art Center

Smithsonian genome exhibition mapping a path to Rochester Art Center

An acclaimed Smithsonian exhibition focused on the human genome will make its way to southeast Minnesota in 2018 for an extended stay at the Rochester Art Center.

"Genome: Unlocking Life's Code" will open at the art center on June 22 and remain up through September. The 4,400-square foot multimedia exhibition debuted at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. back in 2013, and has since traveled to museums and science centers across the country.

The project, produced in partnership with the National Human Genome Research Institute, uses interactive displays, animations and 3-D models to explore how breakthroughs in genomics are influencing people's daily lives and the impact they are having on science, medicine and nature. 

2018 will mark 15 years since the completion of the Human Genome Project — considered to be one of the most significant scientific achievements in modern history.

The New York Times describes the exhibition as "smart, playful, and, while leaning toward the pop-science end of things, enlightening. It gives a sense of what the Human Genome Project was all about, provides glimpses of its promises and hints of its limitations, raises questions about things unknown and suggests questions whose answers we may choose not to know."

In an interview Thursday, Rochester Art Center interim director Lee Koch said the showing here will mark the first time the exhibition has appeared at an arts institution, creating a unique opportunity to explore "how we can use art to explain science in different ways."

"Our whole goal is to bring a new understanding of genomics to the community," said Koch. 

To build on what already should be a big draw, Koch said the art center plans to coordinate an arts curriculum and other activities  around the genome exhibition. That includes expanding next summer's Total Arts Day Camp to include S.T.E.A.M. — science, technology, engineering, art and math — programming.

The Rochester stop is being hosted by the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine. Mayo is a world leader in the field of individualized medicine, a term used to describe the process of analyzing a person’s genome to better target their care.

(Med City Beat published an entire five-part series on individualized medicine in May 2017 as part of a collaboration with students from the University of Minnesota Rochester.)

You can learn more about the exhibition through its website.

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Cover photo: “Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code” at the National Museum of Natural History / Smithsonian

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