Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Expanding understanding of human evolution

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Human Origins

Tech Specs

  • Drupal
  • 3-D Viewer
  • Social media integration
  • Interactive features


Important scientific findings to share

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History needed a website to showcase its new exhibition of the latest scientific explorations of human origins. These findings have profound implications for our narratives about human origins. Working together with Chedd-Angier-Lewis, CivicActions partnered with Smithsonian to build a site that would engage the public in education and dialogue about what it means to be human.

It was important for the site to be interactive so users could make connections between their experience in the museum and the additional content online. Smithsonian staff would also need to be trained so they could continue to manage the site after the initial launch of the exhibit.

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Using agile to achieve project goals

Agile processes kept the project on track and on budget. By communicating regularly with stakeholders, we made sure there were no surprises, and could quickly adjust course when needed. Rapid iteration allowed us to test ideas before they were built into the final product.

Integrated tools to reach people world-wide

We worked with Smithsonian to create a social media strategy and online tools that would allow people all over the world to vote for new 3-D content and participate in discussions taking place at the museum.

Interactive features to keep things interesting

We built the site with features to keep audiences engaged beyond their museum experience. People can keep learning online through an interactive floor plan of the exhibit, 3-D viewer, and educator’s section with a forum and lesson plans.

Security for public institutions

Our careful security process and and documentation allowed Human Origins to be the first website to successfully pass The Smithsonian Institution Office of Chief Information Officer and Security Committee’s review.

Planning for future growth

By transitioning the site to the Smithsonian Institution’s in-house servers and providing support and training to staff, we ensured the Human Origins site could be easily maintained after its launch. Smithsonian staff continued to use the tools and framework provided by CivicActions.


  • Important scientific explorations are shared with global audiences
  • The public can respond to the exhibition through integrated social media
  • Museum team members are trained to easily add new content to the site
  • Audiences stay interested in new content via a 3-D viewer
  • Educators can share and save lesson plans and approaches


See our work

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Human Origins

Join the conversation

“What Does it Mean To Be Human?”
Human Origins on Twitter


visits per month reached
in 6 months after launch


Twitter followers
for @HumanOrigins

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