CMNH adds new anthropologists as part of the campaign

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CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has added two anthropologists considered rising stars in their industry as part of a new transformation campaign.


What do you want to know

  • The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is going through a $150 million transformation campaign
  • Campaign includes building upgrades, programs and new staff
  • Dr Emma Finestone and Dr Elizabeth Sawchuck are anthropologists who have joined the museum

Standing in an exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, anthropologist Dr Emma Finestone showed the story of human evolution, which she said she has studied for years.

“What really excites me about the field of human evolution is that it connects humans and connects me to the rest of the natural world. I’ve always been very interested in that,” Finestone said. “I took a few courses in college on human evolution and primates and that’s how I really started working in that field.”

Growing up in Boston, Finestone said she has traveled all over the world, including western Kenya, where she worked on surveys to search for ancient stone tools and fossilized animal bones.

She studied how namesakes moved through their environment. She said she is now bringing her experiences to the museum as part of a $150 million transformation campaign.

Finestone will help advance the anthropological program and help visitors understand the connection between the human past and our lives today.

“It’s really important to show that it’s not just that humans are connected to the natural world through our many ancestors and relatives who lived in the past, but we’re also connected to the natural world through living primates and all other animals,” Finestone said.

The museum said the campaign will transform its building, exhibits, educational programs and community engagement. Dr Gavin Svenson said it is a way to help those who come to the museum better understand our past, which may hold valuable information for the future.

“Why is this important to us? Because we interact with the world day to day. The environment we find ourselves in is critically important for us to understand and what our future is,” Svenson said. “And when we can connect the earliest origins of humans and ancestors and the earliest origins of the human species itself, to better understand how they adapted and interacted and negotiated the environment, [it] tells us a lot about what our own future may be.”

Finestone and Dr. Elizabeth Sawchuck are two women who are helping to diversify a field traditionally dominated by white men. Finestone said she sees things moving in the right direction.

“We see with this next generation that there’s a lot more diversity to come, which is hugely important not just for telling human origins, but also for the research and the questions that we’re asking,” Finestone said. “There has to be a diverse group of people doing this research.

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