[NetBehaviour] Darwin exhibition frightening off corporate sponsors (fwd)

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Wed Nov 23 05:14:11 CET 2005

unbelievable. This country is back in the dark ages (which never really 
were dark, but certainly are now) - Alan

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Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2005 22:48:00 -0500 (EST)
From: moderator at portside.org
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Subject: Darwin exhibition frightening off corporate sponsors

The Darwin exhibition frightening off corporate sponsors

By Nicholas Wapshott in New York
(Filed: 20/11/2005)

An exhibition celebrating the life of Charles Darwin has
failed to find a corporate sponsor because American
companies are anxious not to take sides in the heated
debate between scientists and fundamentalist Christians
over the theory of evolution.

The entire $3 million (£1.7 million) cost of Darwin,
which opened at the American Museum of Natural History
in New York yesterday, is instead being borne by wealthy
individuals and private charitable donations.

The failure of American companies to back what until
recently would have been considered a mainstream
educational exhibition reflects the growing influence of
fundamentalist Christians, who are among President
George W Bush's most vocal supporters, over all walks of
life in the United States.

While the Darwin exhibition has been unable to find a
business backer - unlike previous exhibitions at the
museum - the Creationist Museum near Cincinatti, Ohio,
which takes literally the Bible's account of creation,
has recently raised $7 million in donations.

The outbreak of corporate cold feet has shocked New
York's intellectuals. "It is a disgrace that large
companies should shy away from such an important
scientific exhibition," said a trustee of another
prominent museum in the city, who was told of the
exhibition's funding problem by a trustee of the AMNH.

"They tried to find corporate sponsors, but everyone
backed off."

Creationism is increasingly widely backed in America. A
CBS News poll last month found that 51 per cent of
Americans reject the theory of evolution, believing
instead that God created humans in their present form.
Another poll in August found that 38 per cent of
Americans think that creationism should be taught in
schools, instead of evolution.

In Dover, Pennsylvania, last week, a jury began
considering a case brought by parents against a school
board that insisted that "intelligent design," which
argues that a supernatural force populated the earth, be
taught alongside evolution in science classes.

The AMNH is coy about its failure to find corporate
money to mount the exhibition, which will tour the US
before moving to London's Natural History Museum in 2009
to mark the bicentenary of Darwin's birth.

Asked which companies had refused to give money, Gary
Zarr, the museum's marketing director, said he would
have to ask those concerned before he could identify

Steve Reichl, a press officer for the AMNH, said a list
of forthcoming exhibitions was sent to potential
sponsors and none wanted to back the Darwin exhibition.
He declined to reveal which companies, or how many, had
been approached.

The Bank of America previously sponsored a similar
exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci and the financial
services provider TIAA-CREF funded an Albert Einstein

A prominent Metropolitan Museum donor said: "You can
understand why the Museum of Natural History might not
want to admit such a thing.

"They are concerned about finding corporate funding for
exhibitions in the future."

The museum will have to depend more heavily upon the
profits of its Darwin-related merchandise to finance the
cost of staging the exhibition, including a 12-inch
Darwin doll, Darwin finger puppets and, for a $950, a
replica of the vessel Beagle, made in China and
assembled in Vietnam.

Niles Eldredge, the exhibition's curator, confirmed that
the exhibition was intended to redress the balance in
the battle between scientists and creationist Christians
being fought across the country.

"This is for the schoolchildren of America," he said.
"This is the evidence of evolution."

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