Human evolution is one of the most vibrant fields of science and an inspiring area of knowledge. Despite deep public interest in the scientific discoveries, uncertainties and challenges posed by evolution in the public sphere, particularly about human origins, present a critical strategic challenge for all the life sciences. This challenge shapes whether people develop an understanding about the nature of science, with implications for their facility in facing the imminent issues of human biology and society. The proposed project seeks to address this challenge by developing a traveling exhibition based on the Smithsonian’s Hall of Human Origins, and by inviting audiences to public libraries across America to explore the evolutionary milestones that distinguish humanity and to discuss the meaningful implications of human origins. Through the question ‘what does it mean to be human?’, the traveling exhibition aims to position the discourse on evolution beyond the conflict mode even as it emphasizes critical messages about science and the intimate connection humans have with the history of life. The exhibition and its associated public programs, including formal community conversations and science workshops, will engage audiences to explore the wonder of the scientific discoveries concerning human evolution and how these findings connect to diverse personal and societal perspectives about who we are as a species and why it matters. We believe this project offers unique opportunities for public audiences to deepen their understanding of science, evolution in particular, and how its findings may expand on the diverse ways in which people develop their understanding of humanness. The intended enduring impact of the traveling exhibition and community-based events is to further a national discussion on the life sciences and to build opportunities for audiences to connect their personal lives and viewpoints with the scientific exploration of human origins.