Popular Science

Four ways natural history museums can skew reality

Science museums aren't always entirely scientific.

Natural Museum

Natural History Museum

Em Campos / Shutterstock.com

Natural history museums are magical places. They inspire awe and wonder in the natural world and help us understand our place within the animal kingdom. Behind the scenes, many of them are also undertaking world-changing science with their collections.

But they are places for people, made by people. We might like to consider them logical places, centered on facts, but they can’t tell all the facts—there isn’t room. Similarly, they can’t show all the animals. And there are reasons behind what goes on display and what gets left in the storeroom.

The biases that can be detected in. Museums are a product of their own history, and that of the societies they are embedded in. They are not apolitical, and they are not entirely scientific. As such, they don’t really represent reality.

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