Natural History Museum in L.A. removes reference to God

A view of the the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.
A view of the the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

The Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History has removed a reference to God in an exhibition space for visitors, according to reports. An inscription in the museum’s new Nature Lab that referenced God was taken down from the space Monday.

The news of the quote’s removal was reported by L.A. radio station KPCC. The quotation is attributed to an anonymous donor to the museum, and read: “The Nature Lab is a gift to Los Angeles to celebrate all of God’s creatures and enable NHM to broaden our understanding of the natural world through the process of scientific discovery.”

According to the museum, the decision to remove the quotation was made because of its potential to cause confusion. “Upon further reflection and after discussion with our staff, and in conversation with the donor, the museum has determined that acknowledging donors by including personal statements in such a manner has the potential to cause confusion,” a museum spokeswoman told the radio station.

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The Nature Lab features live animals, multimedia exhibits and science projects. The space is a new addition to the museum, having opened to the public earlier this year.

The quotation referencing God had previously been criticized by prominent University of Chicago biology professor Jerry Coyne.

On his blog earlier this month, Coyne wrote that the inscription was misleading the public because it implied that the museum was giving its scientific imprimatur to the idea that animals are God’s creation, and because the museum failed to make clear whether the anonymous donor had requested the inscription to appear in the museum space. (Coyne’s blog is titled “Why Evolution is True.”)

KPCC reported that the museum is in talks with the anonymous donor about the matter, and that it is unclear whether the museum will have to return the money.


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