Sunday, October 28, 2018

Genome VIP Opening

Genome: Unlocking Life's Code opened at the Orange County Regional History Center (65 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801) with a VIP opening reception in the lobby. The traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution is presented by Orlando Health and is open through January 6, 2019.

This special exhibit examines the complexities of the genome—the genetic or hereditary material of a living organism—through cutting-edge displays, animation, and fascinating real-life stories that reveal the links between generations and how our histories begin long before we are born. The exhibit also examines both the benefits and challenges the study of genetics presents to our society.

The exhibit also contains a special area, custom designed by History Center staff, that explores three genomic ties to Central Florida – in the fascinating findings at the Windover Bog archaeological site in Brevard County, in the development of citrus, and through the family histories of some well-known Central Floridians, including Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer; Jorge Estevez, WFTV Channel 9 news anchor; journalist Brendan O’Connor of the Bungalower; Toni Pressley, Orlando Pride soccer team defender; and Geraldine Thompson, former state representative and senator and founder of Orlando’s Wells’ Built Museum.

At the VIP reception all the participants in the family tree project were given time to discuss their feelings about the project. Buddy Dyer took time to thank Pam Schwartz for her contributions in spearheading a collecting initiative of memorial items after the Pulse Nightclub massacre. Geraldine Thompson gave the most moving testimony as she described her feeling after discovering that she had a close relative that she didn't know existed. A man who was searching for his biological father contacted Pam and she was able to prove through DNA and family history who his father really was. Unfortunately the father had died a few years prior. But the man and Geraldine are both seem excited to meet one another.

The exhibit features large interactive displays with projections and video. You can literally spend hours learning about DNA and life's code if you read every text panel. The evening was winding down before I could finish my explorations.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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