Upon entering the Health Museum at 1515 Hermann Drive, Houston, most visitors would expect to see various exhibits about the human body. Instead, customers will be able to experience “Primordial Shift: The Science and Art of Gene Editing” through May next year.
Conceived by artist Michael Meilahn, the new exhibit aims to address the implications of genetic modification of maize. In the 20th century, scientists discovered that they were able to unravel the genetic code, and the opportunity for genetic modification became available, bringing both positive and negative results.
Unlike other past exhibits, “Primordial Shift” uses art and science to show the history of genetic modification. At the center of it all is four-foot-tall glass popcorn with a background behind it that makes them look like they’re swinging in a field.
“We have developed support programs around the scientific part of genetic modification. Corn is the start of all of this and corn modification has been going on for a very long time. There has been a negative connotation in the past about genetic modification and bioengineering,” said Stephanie Wigginton, the museum’s marketing manager. “It answers the questions about what is genetic modification in the end? How does it affect agriculture and how does it actually affect the food we put in our mouths?”
Although genetic modification tends to be a more controversial topic, the exhibit set out to explore its benefits, such as modifying corn to use less water or grow faster. It also discusses what the future of genetic modification might one day look like.
Although the museum doesn’t often use installation art in exhibits, the choice to use Meilahn’s work was an easy one.
“Much of our museum is based on the whole body experience of health, science and human anatomy. We thought it would be a different way to look at some of the scientific facts around the history of genetic modification,” Wigginton said.
Since the exhibit has no interactive parts or objects for children to climb on, it is not recommended for young children, although the museum has other exhibits that are better suited for them.
The museum will also host its Viva La Vida gala from 6-10 p.m. on November 5 at the Four Seasons Hotel. The event will honor some of Houston’s top healthcare professionals and celebrate their diversity, dedication, courage and compassion. Tickets and sponsorships are still available on their website.
Museum tickets range from $8 to $10, depending on age and membership level. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. It is closed on Mondays and free for everyone on Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.
They will also have their Fall Cornival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on October 30 at the museum.
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