SCI hosting exhibition focused on implicit bias

SCI hosting exhibition focused on implicit bias

The exhibition is open now and ends August 8, 2021

  • Monday July 12, 2021

Imagine you are walking down a street late and night and hear footsteps behind you. Close your eyes. You’re afraid. Who do you picture in your mind? You feel safe. Who do you picture in your mind?

The Science Center of Iowa (SCI) recently opened a traveling exhibition that examines the science and consequences of implicit bias. "The Bias Inside Us" is a community engagement project from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), and SCI is the fourth stop on its four-year, 40-city tour. The exhibit opened last weekend and will close in less than a month on August 8.

"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."

Through compelling images, hands-on interactives and powerful testimonials and videos, "The Bias Inside Us" unpacks and demystifies the concept of bias while encouraging audiences to challenge bias in the world through awareness of their own biases.

"As our country grapples with issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, it is critically important that science help lead the way to new understanding and solutions," said Curt Simmons, SCI president and CEO. "With this provocative exhibition, we hope to spark important conversation regarding implicit bias in the United States and within our own communities."

The exhibition features six sections: 

  • Introduction
  • The Science of Bias
  • Bias in Real Life
  • Serious Consequences – Bias is All Around Us
  • #RetrainYourBrain
  • 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.

"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.

"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

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 exhibition is sponsored locally by United Way of Central Iowa.


"The Bias Inside Us" is open now through August 8, 2021. The exhibit is included with SCI general admission ($11 for children and adults, $10 for seniors 65+ and free for children under 2).

SCI is currently open Wednesdays through Sundays, and visitors are encouraged to reserve advance tickets for either 9:00 am-12:00 pm or 1:00-4:00 pm at www.sciowa.org/gettickets

To learn more about the exhibition, visit www.sciowa.org/bias or https://biasinsideus.si.edu/

About the Science Center of Iowa
The Science Center of Iowa engages and inspires Iowans along their journey of lifelong science learning. The 110,000-sq. ft. facility located in Downtown Des Moines features dynamic experience platforms, large format theaters and daily interactive science demonstrations. Through daily visitors, a statewide educational outreach programs and the NAEYC-accredited SCI Preschool, the Science Center of Iowa serves more than 300,000 people annually.

About the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES)
SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.  For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit sites.si.edu.