Get the most out of this summer’s genome exhibit


By this point, any science-minded individuals in Rochester have probably visited the Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code exhibit at the art center.

(Side note: If you haven’t made it to the exhibit, which pairs the Smithsonian’s museum display with art pieces related to genomic science, you should do that ASAP. Need more convincing? Check out the story we wrote for the opening in June, featuring two local artists who are part of the show. Now go.)

If you’re looking for more ways to engage with the exhibit while it’s here (through Sept. 21), you should make room on Wednesday evenings.

The Rochester Art Center’s book club has held meetings every week to discuss two books that delve further into the human genome than even the museum exhibit: "The Story Within" by Amy Boesky, and "Abraham Lincoln’s DNA and Other Adventures in Genetics" by Phillip R. Reilly.  

The latter book will be the topic of discussion through early September.


In 1962, a Los Angeles physician diagnosed a young boy with Marfan syndrome, a genetic disorder that manifests itself in excessive height, long limbs, heart problems, and joint issues.  

The boy was a distant relative of president Abraham Lincoln. When the responsible gene was discovered in 1991, an interesting question was raised: was it possible to tell whether Lincoln (an excessively tall, gaunt man whose description could match someone with Marfan) had the disorder?

Those tests have not yet been completed. But the process of discovering genetic abnormalities in history and tackling the ethical issues that arise when we look into genomics are unpacked in Reilly’s novel. Next Wednesday, the book club will discuss the genetic revolution in medicine and the uptick in testing for genetic diseases.

Is your TBR (to be read) pile already huge? Fear not: each week’s discussion is devoted to a different section of the book, which means that you can read only the parts you’re interested in and join those chats.

What: RAC Book Club

Where: Rochester Art Center, 40 Civic Center Dr. SE

When: 6 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays


Cost: Free

Bring: A copy of "Abraham Lincoln’s DNA and Other Adventures in Genetics," which you can find at the public library (or go the extra mile and buy your own copy - it’s worth a read!).

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