OUR TIME IN DEEP TIME - THE ANTHROPOCENE IN THE SMITHSONIAN'S FOSSIL HALLS
The biggest challenge in creating the anthropocene section of the exhibit has been developing an effective tone. Sociological research has shown that when negative messages predominate people feel powerless and are less likely to take in new information or change their behavior. To be accurate and effective the exhibit must portray rapid, pervasive, unplanned and generally undesirable anthropogenic global changes while also showing how people are mitigating these changes and their side effects. We are using several media formats to convey these messages, including large screen documentary video and interactive video.
In trying to balance scientific accuracy with effective messaging we have made the concept of legacy central. Visitors are inheritors of a legacy vastly longer than most of them realize, which we show in the deep time portions of the exhibit. We encourage them to see themselves as members of a species that has the power to change earth systems at a rate and scale that is unprecedented. We wish them to gain a larger sense of the legacy they leave behind as well as the one they have inherited.