February at the Bell

The Bell Museum in Minneapolis is pulling out all the stops in the month of February, celebrating Darwin’s birth month with an orgy of science and sex. I’m going to be there for the events on the 13th and 15th, and I’m really tempted by the talk on the 20th—I’ll have to see if I can get away for that one.

People in Minneapolis/St Paul ought to appreciate that this kind of public outreach is what good museums do, and take advantage of the opportunities!

Bell Museum of Natural History, University of Minnesota
10 Church St. S.E. , Minneapolis, MN 55455, (612) 624-7389

In Feburary, the Bell Museum of Natural History celebrates the birthday of pioneering naturalist Charles
Darwin with a series of discussions and films that explore his life and legacy.

Thurs., Feb. 1, 7 p.m. Bell Museum Auditorium
Film — “Genius”
$7, $5 students, seniors and members
A documentary on Charles Darwin, his historic voyage to the Galapagos Islands, and his most influential work:
The Origin of Species. Highlights include expert analysis and insight into Darwin’s impact on today’s world.

Thurs., Feb. 8, 7 p.m., Bell Museum Auditorium
Film — “Kansas vs. Darwin”
$7, $5 students, seniors and members
In May, 2005 the Kansas state school board held hearings that put Darwin’s theory of evolution on trial. See
for yourself what happened — and why.

Tues., Feb. 13, 6 p.m., Varsity Theater, Dinkytown, Minneapolis
Discussion — Cafe Scientifique: “Understanding Evolution”
$5 Suggested Donation.
A panel of University of Minnesota researchers discusses the science of evolutionary biology, and the history
of America’s cultural response to teaching evolution. Learn about new research from professor and science
blogger PZ Myers, Bell Museum Director Scott Lanyon, and historian of biology Mark Borrello.

Thurs., Feb. 15, 7 p.m., Bell Museum Auditorium
Film (Regional Premier) — “Flock of Dodos”
$7, $5 students, seniors and members
Filmmaker and evolutionary ecologist Randy Olson pokes fun at the battle between evolution and intelligent
design. He travels to his home state of Kansas to consult his mother, Muffy Moose, and confronts her
neighbor, a lawyer backing intelligent design.

Tues., Feb. 20, 6:30 p.m., Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis
Discussion — Cafe Scientifique: “Sex, Snails & Evolution”
$5 admission. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
Cynthia Norton, biologist and Professor of Animal Behavior at the College of St. Catherine discusses
evolutionary biology and sexual selection. Her research into the reproductive behaviors of hermaphroditic snails
is one example of the diversity of sexual behaviors found in nature. What can biologists tell us about the
evolution of sex?

Thurs., Feb. 22, 7 p.m., Bell Museum Auditorium
Film — “Deepest Desires”
$7, $5 students, seniors and members
Does the difference in the way men and women approach sex have an evolutionary basis? See what happens
when a male and female actor are sent to a London university campus with hidden cameras to ask a simple
question: “Will you sleep with me?”


  1. Mena says

    This reminds me-has anyone seen the Mendel exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago? I was wondering if it is worth the effort to get tickets, park, etc.

  2. lisa says

    Not this “women don’t like casual sex” crap again. Women are afraid; men never worry about being beaten up or killed by being alone with a woman they don’t know, but women hear about other women being killed for going home with “the wrong guy” all the time.

  3. j says

    I’ve been wanting to see Flock of Dodos for a long time, but it’s still not available here, nor do I think it ever will be.

  4. Greg Peterson says

    This is just fantastic news, and I feel so fortunate. I love the Bell, and was privileged to serve on an advisory panel once when they were looking to “rebrand” the museum. I think they do terrific work, not least of which is the Cafe Scientifique series. I can hardly wait. Oh, and the snail thing? Totally a belated Valentine’s Day date opportunity. What could be a better aphrodisiac than hot snail-on-snail action?

  5. Shanai Matteson says

    Thanks for plugging the Bell Museum’s February programs–and for agreeing to make the drive to Minneapolis not once, but twice in one week. I hope the weather cooperates, and that these will all be interesting (and well attended) programs.

    As it happens: yesterday I had my first encounter with a Bell Museum visitor who was upset that the Cafe Scientifique program “Understanding Evolution” was not going to include any panelists from “the other side of the debate.” Witout saying as much, he suggested that we are discriminating against him and others who share his beliefs, because we didn’t invite intelligent design folks to take part in the panel.

  6. says

    “, but women hear about other women being killed for going home with “the wrong guy” all the time.”

    I agree, and also women are afraid of rape and sexual violence – possibly more afraid than we need to be, but it’s a legitimate fear and there’s good reason for a woman to think twice before going home with an unknown man. Also there are different social standards for women’s and men’s sexual behaviour; casual sex is still considered more acceptable for men, and degrading or ‘slutty’ for women, and women are sometimes shamed or looked down on for it, even by their supposed friends. Similarly some men may feel they are expected to say ‘yes’ to such an offer in order to prove their masculinity or sexuality.

    None of this means women don’t like sex, or only care about marriage and babies and flowers And it does completely invalidate these ‘experiements’, if they’re intended to prove any evolutionary basis for the different behaviours. Surely to prove that it isn’t an evolutionary thing, you would just have to choose test subjects from different social groups, age groups, religions etc. and look at how they vary.

  7. Paguroidea says

    What an exciting list of events!

    I’m curious. What are other areas around the globe doing to celebrate Darwin’s birth month?

  8. Azkyroth says

    Not this “women don’t like casual sex” crap again.

    Yeah…I’ve certainly never met a woman who insisted on formal sex. Granted, my experience has been somewhat limited…

    Women are afraid; men never worry about being beaten up or killed by being alone with a woman they don’t know, but women hear about other women being killed for going home with “the wrong guy” all the time.

    I imagine this is part of it, yes. It would be interesting to test it…how might that be accomplished?