Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring museums, ideas, and conversation

Category: Science in Museums (page 3 of 7)

Science in Museums: Museums in Nature

by columnist Kacie Rice

Stone bridge at the Middlesex Fells Reservation.

Stone bridge at the Middlesex Fells Reservation.

This weekend, after a busy and stressful few weeks of moving apartments and starting classes, I decided to go old-school and explore the original science museum: the nature reservation! I put on my boots and went to unwind in nature with a hike in our very own forest, the Middlesex Fells Reservation in Medford. I often find that short day hikes allow me to take on the role of John Falk’s “spiritual pilgrim,” though on this occasion, I found myself more of an “explorer” as I found new trails to discover. The Friends of the Fells, a nonprofit preservation group, maintains a website with various trail maps, where I found a map and PDF guide for the Spot Pond Brook Archaeological District Self-Guided Tour, a 0.8 mile loop that passes through former mill settlements in the Virginia Wood forest. Interested hikers can download the guide, which gives background information on eleven different sites marked with numbered posts along the trail.

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Science in Museums: Fukushima’s Fallout for Science Museums

by Catherine Sigmond

If you haven’t been paying attention to what’s been happening in Fukushima, Japan, recently, let me summarize the current situation: after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a triple meltdown- the only incident other than the Chernobyl disaster to earn the highest rating of 7 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. Since then, the constant pumping of cold water to cool the reactors has contained the meltdown. However, this process generates hundreds of tons of radioactive wastewater each day. There’s increasingly less space to store this contaminated water, and last month it was discovered that around 300 tons of it had leaked into the ground. The crisis, which in recent months had been bumped down from its initial rating of 7 to 1, was just increased to 3. In other words, there’s a lot of uncertainty about what to do, and the situation is nowhere near being resolved.

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Science in Museums: Art and Science Collide at the National Building Museum

by columnist Kacie Rice

My summer internship in Washington, D.C., has given me a great opportunity to explore a lot of new (to me) museums. This weekend, I checked out the National Building Museum, established by Act of Congress in 1980 and located in the historic 1887 Pension Bureau building in downtown Washington. The building itself is definitely befitting of a museum of architecture and city planning: the outside is an impressive red brick façade with a wraparound frieze depicting various military units, while the inside is a cavernous space supported by eight huge Corinthian columns. Multiple Presidents have held their inauguration balls inside the building, and it is regularly used for political events. Continue reading

Science in Museums: 8 Reasons You Need to Visit the Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie

by Catherine Sigmond

When people go to Paris, they always want to visit the Louvre. But did you know that Paris also has the world’s most popular science museum? Here are 8 reasons you should visit the Cité des Science et de l’Industrie next time you’re in the City of Love.

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Science in Museums: What makes a successful hands-on demonstration in the gallery?

by columnist Cira Brown
I’ve been doing the “Perceptual Form of the City” hands-on demo at the MIT Museum for almost a year now, and it’s my first experience in engaging with visitors in the museum directly.  The premise for the demo is as follows: I ask the visitors to draw a map of Boston and then ask them to consider why they chose certain features and compare it to other maps that I have on hand. I then relate patterns in their drawings to the research of MIT Professor Kevin A. Lynch and his book Images of the City (1960), which is a landmark text in urban planning. In the 1950′s, Professor Lynch asked both visitors and residents of Boston to draw the city, and found insights into what details make a city “work” and what doesn’t. I’m not going to go into details in hopes that you’ll swing by the MIT Museum one weekend and participate!
Recently, I’ve been reflecting on what makes this demonstration successful, especially since I’m in the midst of creating my own. I’ve adapted the way I engage with visitors since starting out at the museum last autumn, and here’s a list of things that I’ve found helps ensure success:
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