We live in a world of genetically modified cotton, BioSteel™ goats, and pluots – in other words, a world where much of the nature surrounding us isn’t actually so natural at all. For this new world, Pittsburgh now has a new museum, the Center for PostNatural History, which aims to explore the complex interplay between culture, nature, and biotechnology. Opening on March 2, the museum will provide a unique look at how humans have profoundly influenced the very foundations of life on this planet, particularly in the areas of selective breeding and genetic engineering.
Director and curator Richard Pell says: “The Center for PostNatural History serves as a jumping-off point for thinking about how people shape the living world around them. Humans have been slowly domesticating plants and animals for thousands of years and during the last 35 years we’ve begun altering the DNA of organisms in very specific ways. A good portion of the living world is, in a sense, a cultural artifact reflecting the desires, needs and fears of human society. The CPNH is a place to explore that idea.”
The center aims to compile and preserve a comprehensive catalog of “postnatural” specimens – including some that will undoubtedly resemble something right out of a sci-fi movie. It will be open to the public on Sundays from 12 to 6 p.m., or by special appointment.