Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Relevance and Wonder, Science and History

I've mentioned before that we're working on a project that's a marriage between a local history museum and hands-on science center: the Fort Collins Museum and Discovery Science Center

One of the strategies in terms of exhibit development is leveraging the history to support the science, and science to back up the history. This helps create an environment which is multi-layered, and connection-rich (not to mention a nice match with current educational standards).

Using history to provide context to the science presents the concepts in a real-world manner. Visitors don't tend to experience life in isolated silos of science, history, art, etc. They experience them simultaneously, so this is a familiar fit. 

At the same time, science and scientific phenomena can provide a level of impact and wonder that history can't. The vehicles in science museums tend to be more hands-on.  So we're using the engaging tools of science exhibits to provide attractors to both topics.

On another level, we're using this overlap approach in two other ways. One is that we're fostering connections between global topics and visitors by using local instances of an idea, and vice versa.

The other is by highlighting role models of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities. This brings a first-person voice to the multitude on the museum floor- it personalizes the experience. It also can have the affect of making seemingly out of reach achievements seem more... acheivable for the average Jill.

The ideal for any cultural institution marriage is to develop a situation where the complementary qualities can come together and create something bigger or better than either could be on their own.

Prior to a new building, the Museum is starting to experiment in the existing museum and via their blog to with these ideas. Take a look!

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