Research in health and biomedicine is rapidly advancing. In the process, we are shifting our fundamental assumptions of how we understand human biology. The new developments confront the public with new ways of thinking about health and what it means to be human. Museums should provide leadership to help facilitate public conversations about the shifts in how we think about human biology. We need to consider what are some potential directions where museums could direct their public education efforts in the future. This was the challenge for assembling a special edition of Museums and Social Issues.
We invited a variety of authors to address social issues related to museums in the realm of biomedicine, and we’ve collected these genres of articles into two sections: 1. Issues in the Public Sphere and 2. Museums, Health, and Community. This blend of approaches reflects the variation in how people are thinking about the future of museums in the face of rapidly developing subject content and rapidly shifting public attitudes. These articles begin to address how museums can help the public understand rapidly changing biomedical science. In this regard, the future of museums may not be so much in the walls of their institutions as in their relationships with communities, and how information and perception can be usefully aligned to promote science understanding.