Dialogue & the Science Museum

Just a few quick nocturnal musings on some books and articles I have recently read. I am very interested in science engagement, both in museums and science centres, but also through sci-art and other alternative strategies. Quite a lot of literature on science engagement published in the 1990s up to the year 2000 appears like a struggle between people who advocate ‘interactives’ (hands-on engagement) for their accessibility, and people who fear the influx of ‘interactivity’ for creating, in fact, a new kind of passivity through mere putton pushing and an over emphasis on entertainment. While quite a few people seemed to agree that a mixture of ‘object and text based’ and ‘interactive’ engagement is probably the best solution, there was also a strong call for ‘third generation science engagement’. This ‘third generation’, following on from ‘static’ and ‘interactive’ engagement, was often described as dialogue or discussion based and engaging beyond the space of the museum. As can be seen in many science museums, opinion areas and ‘discussion exhibits’ have become quite common. On some occasions they even appear to feed into current research or even policy-making. After the agitation and vibrant debate around ‘interactives’, I expected there to be quite a few articles and other contributions discussing ‘discussion exhibits’. But I have not been able to find any recent examples. No discussions about their link to ‘third generation’ science museums or critical analyses of their links to research or policy. But surely there must be! Therefore, I am issuing a ‘wanted’ notice as a call to anyone who may have information on this ‘case’…

Ah, and ‘Happy Halloween!’

(Wait a moment, this poster generator will come in handy today…)


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