Monday, March 16, 2009
I had a frustrating museum experience last week. I was visiting the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and caught one of the da Vinci exhibits that is making its way around the globe. It was filled with burnt umber walls, yellow ochre drawings and large, robust wooden models of da Vinci's ideas. They looked like they were built to handle some... handling. Yet I was "greeted" with Don't Touch stickers plastered over all but a half-dozen exhibits in the back, and no photography was allowed. Yes, I know that it's not feasible to allow the public to touch all these kinetic exhibits- for their safety as well as for budgetary issues. However, is it essential that you can't take a picture, or write a note? I found it extremely frustrating to see a room full of kinetic objects about flight, gravity, motion, energy... just sitting there. If you can't touch it, at least animate it... give it some life. Especially in the context of a hands-on science museum. The thing I did like was that outside the exhibit hall they showed da Vinci-esque projects from local school kids. That was pretty cool-- I wanted to see some more of those.