Smithsonian Community Engagement Project on Implicit Bias Launches Tour at the Science Museum of Minnesota

March 2, 2021
News Release

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The bias inside us. Smithsonian.

“The Bias Inside Us” is a community engagement project from the Smithsonian about the psychology of implicit bias, the impact of this bias and what people can do about it. Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service

The Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) announced today, March 2, the launch of the four-year, 40-city tour of “The Bias Inside Us.” The community engagement project will raise awareness about the social science and psychology of implicit bias, the impact of this bias and what people can do about it. “The Bias Inside Us” begins its national tour at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul, where it is on view now through April 4.

Future host organizations include the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Schaumburg Township District Library, Schaumburg, Illinois; Science Center of Iowa, Des Moines; St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota; University of Wisconsin—Green Bay at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, Wisconsin; and the Pablo Center at the Confluence, Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Tour details are available online at biasinsideus.si.edu.

“Bias is part of being human,” said Myriam Springuel, director of SITES and Smithsonian Affiliations. “Our goal through ‘The Bias Inside Us’ is to help individuals understand and counter their implicit bias and help communities thrive through conversation and greater understanding.”

“The Bias Inside Us” features a traveling exhibition that serves as the centerpiece for local programs and activities. Through compelling images, hands-on interactives and powerful testimonials and videos, the exhibition unpacks and demystifies the concept of bias. The exhibition features six sections: Introduction, The Science of Bias, Bias in Real Life, Serious Consequences—Bias is All Around Us, #RetrainYourBrain and Personal Reflection.

Visitors will explore the foundational blocks of bias, the psychology of how it forms and how it influences behaviors both consciously and unconsciously. Interactive elements display how implicit and explicit bias show up in the world and how bias influences systems and policies that have consequences for many people and communities. One interactive experience invites visitors to think about the how bias is reflected in product design, advertising, architecture and technology. Among the videos in the exhibition is a series that features eight voices from diverse perspectives sharing personal experience with bias.

The exhibition also features Spanish photographer Angélica Dass’ Humanae project, which reflects on the color of skin that challenges the concept of race. In this work, Dass documents humanity’s true colors through portraits, rather than the labels “white,” “red,” “black” and “yellow.”

“The Bias Inside Us” draws from the scientific research and educational work by psychologists Mahzarin R. Banaji of Harvard University and Anthony G. Greenwald, professor emeritus at the University of Washington. They defined the term “implicit bias” through their work on unconscious and conscious mental processes. Their book Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People (Delacorte Press, 2013) explores the biases people carry based on their exposure to cultural attitudes on areas such as gender, race, social class and disability status.

Major support for “The Bias Inside Us” is provided by the Otto Bremer Trust. Additional support provided by Acton Family Giving, anonymous donors, The Beverly Foundation, Steve and Sheri Lear, Target, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation, Thomson Reuters, Allianz of America, Valerie E. and William A. Anders, Julie and David Burton, the Dreier Family, Lennart Ehn and Ginger Lew, Expedia, Trevor and Melissa Fetter, the Roger S. Firestone Foundation, Brenda J. Gaines, Myra Hart and Kent Hewitt, Charlie and Nancy Hogan, Dr. Christine C. Jenkins and Mr. Pierre A. France, KNOCK Inc., Sarah Lawer and Frank Guanco, Kathleen Mason, Elyse Rabinowitz and Jim Porter, Dr. Philip S. and Alice Hoolihan Randall, Gloria del C. Rodriguez, the Family of Leona Roen, and Naoma Tate.

“The Bias Inside Us” is based on an original concept developed by Tolerance in Motion: Steve Lear, Laura Zelle and Elyse Rabinowitz, founders; Ellen Glatstein, Laura Lipshutz, Alice Randall, Joanne Jones-Rizzi and Susan Shapiro, directors; Don Shelby, founding advisor; and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, Steve Hunegs, executive director.

SITES and Smithsonian Affiliations are critical national outreach units at the Smithsonian Institution. For more than 65 years, SITES has been connecting Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history. Smithsonian Affiliations establishes and maintains the Smithsonian’s long-term partnerships with museums, educational organizations and cultural institutions in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Panama. Together, SITES and Affiliations share the Smithsonian's vast resources with millions of people outside Washington, D.C. Visit http://sites.si.edu and https://affiliations.si.edu/ for more information.

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SI-59-2021