Science museums do not just teach science; and they are the places where scientific information is communicated. The museum will be able to provide its visitors with the necessary tools to complete their tasks in a logical and effective way. They can even provide general education on various topics of interest. But is this really happening?
Museums are often criticized for attracting enormous crowds. Despite this criticism, museums still maintain their popularity and continue attracting visitors. This article explores the influence of science museums on the general public. It also ponders whether they are fulfilling their educational role while encouraging visits to make a commercial profit.
Science museums need to be popular
Popularization is an important aspect of a science museum. It helps to engage the visitor looking for an appealing and remarkable experience. The museum should encourage the visitor to explore new scientific fields, visit science exhibitions and participate in different activities such as workshops or laboratories. The notion of accessibility will help us to understand the integration of education into a museum’s activities.
Accessibility, which can be easily understood as the way to reach museums, refers to how museums reach their visitors who live in areas where no museum exists. People interested in visiting a museum could look for information on its website or call one of its phone numbers. But accessibility is not limited by these factors; it goes further than them. We can also consider the importance of museums in people’s daily lives.
Museums are a reference
Science museums are a reference for individuals and families because they often provide them with information useful for their everyday actions. Popularization is a process through which scientific information is communicated and popularized, while accessibility is a process through which visitors access science museums. However, the two terms are not exactly equivalent and do have differences in their scope.
Purpose of a science museum
The purpose of the museum is to provide access to the public, but it can be argued that it also aims at popularization, thus performing both functions. This raises questions as to whether they should be treated as separate processes (scientific education vs. popularity) or whether both aspects should be considered when claiming that science museums fulfill their educational role.
Science museums are places where scientific information is transmitted. It can be argued that they fulfill their educational role by providing the public with scientific information and by helping people to understand how science can enrich our lives, thus encouraging them to use it in their daily existence.
Targets of a science museum
The responsibility of a science museum is not to provide scientific knowledge; rather, through popularization, the public can gain access to knowledge and then decide whether they want to pursue the subject further or not. In other words, popularization is a process through which scientific information is communicated and made available to the public.
There is nobody of knowledge on how exhibitions in science museums affect the public. It is worth noting that the museum’s mission goes beyond scientific popularization. It aims to achieve a greater public understanding of science, which suggests that it should also be concerned with cultural diversity and social inclusion issues.
Engaging the public in science awareness
Many studies have emphasized the importance of designing exhibition themes in order to engage the public. The main purpose is to provide visitors with memorable experiences and foster their interest in science. One study has shown that only a few visitors remember what they see at exhibitions. It was concluded that most visitors do not remember what they see at exhibitions, but it is still possible to encourage them to have positive attitudes towards science.
Accessibility of science museums
Many museums choose to use the internet to reach out and improve accessibility. They use social media, Facebook and Twitter, to provide information on their activities. Some go even further by inviting the public to collaborate on exhibitions. This is a good way for them to interact with visitors, increase the number of participants and engage them in scientific fields that are considered difficult or irrelevant by some members of the public.
Some museums decided to create their own content and invite researchers to propose it in terms of exhibitions. This is a way of strengthening their content and creating a unique experience for visitors. Their efforts paid off, and they became increasingly successful. At first, they could not compete with other museums, but now they have managed to gain more market share over time. However, some issues still need to be addressed regarding their future development.
Effect on economic crisis on science museums
The recent economic crisis has been affecting science museums. In the UK, it meant that many museums were obliged to reduce their budgets. Some of them have closed, and the public has lost access to their collections. Several different factors have been studied in order to explain this decrease in attendance. The most significant were the increase in ticket prices, reduced staff resources, and low visitor numbers. Visitors have also been losing interest in molecular biology and astrophysics, which are currently the main focus of science museums.
Fobes has provided a comprehensive review of the changes that have taken place in science museums over time and the reasons for this change. The main factors behind this change are (i) the evolution of museums in general, as well as their role as research centers or teaching institutions, and (ii) the increasing importance of science communication.
There have been a lot of changes in society, which have influenced the behavior of visitors at exhibitions. Two main models can describe the evolution of museums over time: the linear model and the curvilinear model. The linear model suggests that museums are adaptable and they follow a constant upward trend. The curvilinear model follows an increasing trend initially, but it comes to a plateau after some time and then starts to decrease.
Museums have been developing according to the curvilinear model. The number of museums has increased over time, but not in all countries. The UK is one of the countries where the curvilinear model applies. Fobes suggests that this has been mainly due to government funding and private donations, and because of this, museums have been able to maintain their operations.
The new changes in science museums
In a recent study, Wilson, Ford, and Ling provided a comprehensive review of the changes that have taken place in science museums over time. They have identified three main factors responsible for this change: the evolution of museums and non-science museums, governmental policy, and the public interest.
Non-science museums have been developing according to a linear model. They have been increasing their attendance figures every year. This can be explained by their use of new technologies and their offering of activities that correspond to the public interest in the 21st century. Unlike science centers, non-science museums focus more on the experience of being in a museum and the representation of cultural events within science.
Satisfying the science learners
In order to satisfy the public interest, they offer an economically attractive offer by using technology and interactive tools. The UK government has actively supported science museums through a competitive grant scheme called Museums, Libraries, and Archives Council (MLA) grant for Learning Experiences or Molex. This scheme aims to improve the public understanding of science and has supported many projects that have contributed to science centers’ development.
In a recent study conducted in Ireland, Cronin et al. explored whether promoting scientific literacy is a part of science museums’ mission. They did this by exploring the objectives of science museums in terms of creativity, literacy, and communication.
They have also explored their main functions, and they have identified that they are mainly focused on education, content creation, and research. This is consistent with previous studies conducted in the UK that found that science museums would like to increase the number of visitors by providing more interactive exhibitions.
The conclusion is that they have a strong ability to promote scientific literacy, which is supported by their educational role and their role in content creation. This is an important piece of information, as it shows that science museums are willing and able to contribute to the development of scientific literacy within society.
The importance of science museums’ contribution to science education is a way of promoting the public understanding of science within society.