Posts Tagged ‘Science Museum’

Grace and I decided that we would check out the new wing in the science museum last week. As a kid, I loved the science museum, and I had not been in a while. I was looking forward to the trip. I made three observations while at the museum.

First, the exhibits (the new wing in particular) had a lot of visual pop and sizzle. Models of dinosaurs, whales, bacteria, and viruses. Real labs with glass walls so that any museum visitor could see what real scientists are up to. Several “hands-on” labs for anyone who wants to explore the exhibit more. One of the floors even had a nice theater (looked like a mini omnitheater). I’ve always enjoyed the visually appealing atmosphere of the science museum, and the new wing did not disappoint.

The second observation was: despite the great aesthetic feel of many of the exhibits, they lacked information that an informed museum goer seeks when they go into a museum. Granted, the science museum is geared toward the general public, and more specifically, children. Yet, I still could not help but be annoyed by the lack of information in each exhibit. I could tell you how many of a particular type of bacterium could fit on my eyelash, but the exhibits did not deepen my knowledge of a particular field let alone introduce me to exciting breakthroughs or interesting new research.

The third observation I made was that many exhibits contained a moral imperative for the interested observer. Species are going extinct, we should stop that. We are littering the planet, we should be more conscious of what we throw away. These exhortations toward ethical behavior in and of themselves are not bad, but in the context of the science museum, I find them irksome. The moral imperative was not well-grounded in the indicative (see the last paragraph). The behavior these exhibits are encouraging may be upstanding behavior, but they assume rather than argue for the rationale that founds that behavior. The exhibits, to me, came across as saying, “This is good to do. We know because we’re scientists.” I suppose the museum isn’t the last place you would expect to see fallacious appeals to authority, but at least give me a reason to care!

Here’s the takeaway. The general exhibits look very nice – appreciate their beauty. For those who want to deepen their knowledge of a particular field, look for special exhibits and programs that the museum hosts from time to time. When you go to those special programs, take the opportunity then to go to the new wing. I wouldn’t take a trip to the museum otherwise.


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