Smithsonian Unveils Evotourism (TM) Website For People Interested In Our Evolutionary Past

Ever heard of Evotourism? No? That’s because the Smithsonian Institution just made it up.

This month’s issue of Smithsonian magazine is all about Evotourism, which they’ve decided to trademark so we all have to put that pesky trademark symbol after it. Not a user-friendly way to coin a new term.

As their new dedicated site says, Evotourism is the “Smithsonian’s new travel-information service that will help you find and fully enjoy the wonders of evolution. Whether it’s a city museum or suburban fossil trove, a historic scientific site overseas or a rare creature in your own backyard, we’ll direct you to places and discoveries that figure in the science of evolution or offer eye-opening evidence of the process of natural selection.”

The site lists a variety of places to learn about the evolution of life on our planet, from Dinosaur National Monument in Utah, where you and your family can pose for photos in front of a dinosaur still encased in rock, to Darwin’s home just outside London. Each destination is given a detailed treatment with an accompanying article.

There are also some general articles on subjects such as the life and work of Charles Darwin. One important piece is an interview with Christián Samper, former director of Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History that clears up many of the misconceptions about evolution, such as the common misperception that belief in evolution and belief in God is an either/or proposition.

The site is organized by theme, so if you have kids in tow or are a photographer, you’ll be directed to the sites that are best for you.

It’s a good list to start with, but of course there are many more sites to visit and the folks at the Smithsonian will be adding to it. They were modest enough not to include their own Natural History Museum in Washington, DC, surely one of the best Evotourism destinations anywhere. I’d also suggest the Science Museum in London, the Natural History Museum in New York City, and the Natural History Museum in Oxford, England.

For adventure travelers who want to get to the source, there’s the National Museum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, which has Lucy, the famous 3.2 million-year-old Australopithecus afarensis, and a display of skulls from the earliest human ancestors to modern humans in chronological order to show how primate-like traits gradually gave way to a more human appearance. Other rooms show the evolution of other animals.

What other Evotourism destinations would you recommend? Tell us in the comments section!

[Photo courtesy Flickr user InSapphoWeTrust]

Vote for your favorite travel photo in Smithsonian Magazine’s 9th annual photo contest

More than 14,000 photographers from 109 countries entered Smithsonian Magazine’s photo contest this year and now the magazine is asking readers to cast their vote for the Readers’ Choice favorite. From now until March 31, readers can log on to Smithsonian Magazine and choose the best photographs from five categories: Altered Images, Americana, The Natural World, People, and Travel.

We here at Gadling are loving the diversity of photos in the travel category. They range from pastoral images of fishing boats and young monks in Myanmar to colorful urban sprawl in India, weathered calm in Ethiopia to a moment of whimsy in South Africa. The striking photo pictured above shows Segways on tour in Valencia, Spain.

In all, there are 10 photos to vote on each of the five categories. Readers may vote once per day until the deadline on March 31, 2012. The winners will be published in a summer 2012 issue of Smithsonian Magazine.

Your travel photo didn’t get selected as a finalist in the Smithsonian Magazine contest? Why not submit it to the Gadling Flickr pool? Your photo may just be our Photo of the Day.

Image by Marcel van Balken/Smithsonian Magazine

Artcars given kudos by Smithsonian Magazine

This month artcars have well-deserved attention by Smithsonian Magazine. The magazine sent a crew to the H Street Festival in Washington, D.C. on September 19th to cover artcar artists and their work. The result is this video that provides a wonderful overview of the artcars that are tootling about on American roadways. More importantly, it highlights the motivations of the people who create them. An insight into the mind of an artist is a worthwhile ride.

An interesting point made in the video is that artcar artists don’t only take their cars to festivals or put them in parades. Often they are the main mode of transportation for the owners.

This video contains artist interviews and up close looks at some of their creations. As I was watching the video and considered the way cars have been used to create art–whether they are placed in a tree or arranged in a field, or driven around, I thought about how they do have a way of bringing people together in an unusual way.

One can not pass by an artcar without stopping for a closer look. Chances are, if you’ve stopped and looked, so has someone else. Stick around for a few minutes and you may find yourself in a small crowd sharing an experience you may not have expected when you woke up that morning.

To an artcar artist, that’s part of the point they’re trying to make. Stop and pay attention. There’s wonder happening in the world if you slow down long enough to take a look.

Try out a new museum for free on Museum Day

If you’re staying close to home this month and you want to try something new, take advantage of Museum Day on Saturday, September 26th.

That’s right, admission is free! Hundreds of museums and cultural venues in the U.S. are participating, too–find one near you. The options include everything from the Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson in Augusta, Georgia to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.

To attend, you’ll need to register on Smithsonian Magazine’s website (don’t worry, it’s free) and print out the admission card that follows. The card is valid for you and a guest, and must be presented at the door.

Museum Day: Get cultured and learn something for free

If the ticket price of the admission to museums makes you hesitate before pulling out your wallet, on Museum Day, September 27th, the price is right. It’s free–not all museums, but many.

Several museums and cultural sites across the U.S. have been enticed by Smithsonian Magazine to not charge on the 27th to promote Museum Day.

You do need an admission card for free admission, but one pass will get you and a friend in the museum of your choice’s door.

If you use the drop down menu on the Museum Day Web site, you can find out which museums are free in any state. I checked out New York state and found dozens. Reading the list is one way to find out the variety of museums there are.

One museum that fits the historical site category caught my attention in particular. Huguenot Street is in New Paltz and is where I dressed up like a Huguenot when I was in high school and gave tours on what was called Huguenot Day. The house in the picture is one of the houses that is part of the tour.

I found out about Museum Day from Tom Barlow, my friend at Wallet Pop. He swears that I told him about it last week. Where was I? I have no recollection. Here’s the link to the Museum Day admission card.