Terra Conservation Initiative is proud to support paleonanthropoligist Dr. Richard E. Leakey’s unprecedented educational and scientific experience: Ngaren, the Museum of Humankind. As our Terra Stories guest blogger this week, Dr. Leakey shares his vision and the importance of bringing such a project to life. 

By Dr. Richard E. Leakey

A good story can change the world.

It’s time to tell our story.

The story of who we are – of life on this planet – of how human beings came to be – is one of the most adventurous and exciting stories we could ever tell.  Our story shows that: we are interconnected with all life; we are all one people, with common African origins; we are more similar than we are different; that skin color and nationality are irrelevant; and that climate and our mutual relationship with nature are crucial to our survival.  However, until recently, we lacked the scientific evidence, the characters, the plot, and the setting to tell our story well.  But as the details of our story have been revealed in the layers of sediment, and the fossils that have been uncovered by scientists, I think it’s time to tell our story. 

The problem is that the science of human origins is complex.  It’s not easily accessible. It’s difficult for people to grasp.  We are emotional animals. We make sense of the world through stories that engage our curiosity, emotions and imagination – things that touch our heart and soul.  So, I have embarked on a mission to build Ngaren: The Museum of Humankind, designed precisely to address this challenge.  Ngaren’s mission is to translate the science of human origins and life on this planet into dynamic content that will tell the story of humankind; a story where human evolution was not inevitable, where Africa plays a pivotal role; a story in which we are all migrants, in which our differences are insignificant and irrelevant.   

I want to make the story of human origins come to life.

My goal is to build a world class brand dedicated to the science of human origins museum.  Ngaren will be a museum and a planetarium in the Rift Valley of Kenya.  But it will be much more than a museum.  We will use live science, online content, and educational materials to help people understand how our common origins are relevant to our future and how we conduct our lives on the planet today.  And technology will play a key role in how we tell our story and people experience it.

We have partnered with some of the world’s leading scientists, exhibit and content designers, special effects creators, technology experts and storytellers to create live science opportunities and captivating content that will allow people to travel into the universe, the Milky Way, our solar system, to come face to face with Spinosaurus, a giant river monster bigger than T. rex, to meet our ancestors, have a conversation with Turkana Boy, who lived 1.5 million years ago.   We believe that if we can help people understand where we came from, we can help transform our shared future.  The key to our success will be world class storytelling and world class technology will allow us to bring this story to life in a way that has never been done before. 

Ngaren will use special effects and technology such as web cams and Terra Smart Headsets so that people can be immersed in the story of human origins.  We believe that if you experience the magic of discovery, you will never see the world with the same eyes again.