The Smithsonian Experience

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is a place of wonders, which is especially valuable nowadays as it contained exhibitions of the past pandemics. By paying a virtual visit, I learned about the history of fighting the past pandemics and how people who were caught in it moved on with their lives.

        My first impression of visiting a museum virtually is that it is rather “Stationary” in comparison to being there. Although I got to see the pictures and panoramic views of the exhibition, the static images did not open my mind to let me think of each event and their consequences. Which inhibited my memorization process. In an actual in-person museum there would be people casually walking around looking at the postings while tour guides would lead groups through the halls, teaching them each issue comprehensively. This is better compared to virtual visits in my opinion since the atmosphere is curated for people to learn and the explanations those tour guides usually give provides ample detail. There is one issue which needs attention—there are no exhibits for COVID-19. History is not just writing down and memorizing events in the past but rather it is an account of the combination of both events in the past and issues in the present. As of the time of this essay, people around the world are developing vaccines and issuing preventive measures to reduce the spread of COVID. The hard work of the doctors and nurses who initially found the disease and patiently cared for their patients have become the missing link as the reports never mentioned them. I propose the Smithsonian set up a special exhibit only for COVID-19 since it is fundamentally different from other diseases in the way that it killed more people than any other contagion in history and it represents a mutated part of the SARS virus. By having such an exhibit not only will future generations remember the work we have done to save humanity but also pay their respect to the medical personnel who risked their lives to find a cure.

        I would say that the outbreaks exhibition focused on persuading and teaching both students and families or communities who are affected by a certain disease to understand that they can alter their fate if they work together, as a posting on one of the walls read: “It takes people from many professions and walks of life, working together, to fight infectious diseases.” (Smithsonian, Outbreak Exhibition) If in the near future there is a day the pandemic ended and museums reopened to the public, this particular exhibition would be documentation to the bravery of the human race and the teaching ground for future generations. It will be possibly the most iconic place in the museum as the postings of collaborative effort of the international community indicates a possible shift in politics. In a world where the hidden dangers can be life-threatening to the very existence of humanity, we humans always survive by utilizing our intelligence combined with our team effort.

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