The Open Philanthropy Project recommended a grant of $300,000 to the Smithsonian Institution to support the Outbreak exhibit on naturally caused pandemics at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., along with associated educational programming. The exhibit is planned to open in 2018 and run for approximately three years; it may reach up to 8.5 million visitors during that time. We hope this exhibit will help raise awareness of pandemics, in part by drawing public attention to the 100-year anniversary of the 1918 flu pandemic, which is the largest on record.
Some reservations we have about this grant are that the exhibit does not address deliberate or accidentally caused pandemics; that the exhibit itself is designed as a broad introduction to natural pandemics for the museum’s visitors, as opposed to targeted communication about the importance of taking action to reduce pandemic risks; and that it will be difficult to determine the marginal impact of our grant. Overall, we believe that supporting the exhibit and the associated educational programming will be valuable because of its potential to reach a large and diverse audience.
This grant falls within our focus area of biosecurity and pandemic preparedness.