Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring museums, ideas, and conversation

Category: Science in Museums (page 2 of 7)

Exploring Science Museums Through Google Street View

by columnist Catherine Sigmond

Finally, Google has brought its widely acclaimed Art Project to science museums… sort of.

Lately, I’ve been indulging my penchant for travel by exploring the world through Google Street View (did you know you can tour the Galapagos?!).

So when I read about how Google Street View had recently released a virtual tour of the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto I was pretty intrigued.

Continue reading

Exhibit Spaces and Exhibit Catalogs

by Cira Louise Brown

Over the past few months, I have been working to develop an exhibition catalog from an exhibit currently on display. The exhibition explores the topic of time from various cultural, scientific and mechanical standpoints, and uses artifacts from a variety of institutions and collections. I find the show to be very successful in its ambitions, and the content has even been integrated into a college class. Given that it’s a temporary exhibition, lasting less than a year, there was a need to preserve the content in the form of a catalog, in both eBook and iBook formats. I was tasks with laying out the book, using the existing style of exhibition.

As with so many design projects such as these, the task seemed straightforward enough. The exhibit content was done, photography of the objects was mostly completed, and the design standards had already been decided upon. Yet translating an exhibit into a book remains a tricky task.

So, in my brief foray into exhibition catalogs, here’s a little list of what I’ve learned. Continue reading

Museum Review: The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

by columnist Kacie Rice

The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

One of my favorite things to do is when I travel is to see new museums, and I and a friend recently had a chance to visit Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), one of North America’s major natural history and anthropology museums. Founded in 1912, the museum serves over one million visitors a year and acts as Canada’s largest field research institution. ROM has a much more encyclopedic collection than we might expect of a typical natural history museum in the United States, more closely following the European model of the “cabinet of curiosity” than the American system of division between subject areas. In addition to dinosaurs, minerals, stuffed animals, and anthropology collections, the museum also houses arts from around the world and artifacts from Canadian history. The ROM’s collections are almost impossible to visit in a single day: in four hours, we weren’t even able to see half of the permanent exhibits – but what we did see was terrific! Continue reading

5 Places to Check Out Science in Museums this Fall

by columnist Catherine Sigmond

If you’re like me, sometimes the demands of work, school, and life get in the way of actually visiting new museums.  This week, I had the sinking realization that despite my best efforts, I couldn’t remember the last time I visited a new science museum or exhibition. What’s a busy museum professional to do?

I sat down and put together a list of local science museums, exhibitions, and events that I want to visit in the near future. Most of us here in Boston have been to the Museum of Science, but there are plenty of other great places in the area where you can check out interesting science-themed exhibitions and programs.

While it’s by no means exhaustive, these top my short-list of must-see local science events, exhibitions, and museums to visit this fall: Continue reading

Science in Museums: Exhibition Review – Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things

by Cira Brown

“Look closer”, “dig deeper”… if you’re doing that, you’re the type of museum visitor that we love. But how do we foster that level of engagement? “Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Every Day Things”, currently on view at the MIT Museum, aspires to do exactly that. The exhibition showcases seemingly-mundane everyday objects, such as paperclips, matches, and rubberbands, and heralds them as heroes. But this isn’t a show that simply seeks to celebrate various inventors’ ingenuity. Design narratives share the stage with manufacturing processes, historic advertisements and artistic recontextualizations (ranging from ornate sculptures to reconfiguring the object itself).This is an exhibition with themes of consumerism throughout, yet it doesn’t explicitly confront these issues — instead, we examine the objects and their histories free of the associated tensions between sustainability and disposability (almost, at least). These no-frills devices represent the extreme of function over form, yet when you see an array of illuminated clothespins in starbursts, it’s easy to forget their utility for a moment. I enjoy that type of reimagining, and the unstructured and non-linear presentation of these items is a refreshing change of rhythm from standard museum displays. That adage, “design has to work, art doesn’t”, whether true or not, was present in mind throughout the visit.

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