A new exhibit at Davenport’s Putnam Museum aims to use human DNA to counter misconceptions about race.

Studies show the concept of race has no scientific basis, and skin color variation largely correlates with geography. Putnam CEO Kim Findlay says curators hope to demonstrate that by building a world map using visitors’ genetic results from companies like 23 and Me and Ancestry.com.

“The science may challenge long-held beliefs, maybe multi-generational beliefs in our family, in our community, in our workplace,” Findlay says. “We have to go in with an open heart and an open mind in order to give ourselves the opportunity to think differently.” Findlay hopes the project fosters conversations about race among family and friends, students and religious groups.

She says the exhibit “Race: Are We So Different?” is meant to challenge Iowans’ ideas about race. “In this case, it’s the idea of race being about skin color and skin color indicating qualities of people as a group, handed down from one generation to another, maybe not questioned,” Findlay says.

The exhibit opens Saturday and will run through June.

(Thanks to Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio)