As in other parts of the world, science museums in Latin America have their origin in private collections which opened up to the public in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century with the double mission of conservation and education. Although some hands-on museums appeared in the sixties, the boom of interactive science museums in the region began in the mid 80’s or early 90’s, a bit later than their peers in Europe and North America. These first museums were inspired on the existing models such as the Exploratorium, the Ontario Science Centre and the Cité des Sciences et L‘industrie. The concept of low cost interactive exhibits presented in the Exploratorium‘s cookbooks, the combination of science and everyday topics such as sports in the Ontario Science Center and the travelling exhibitions offered by the Cite´s were some of the ingredients incorporated into the early stages of development of these first Latin American museums. Due to the cultural affinity these firts museums served as models, advisors and in some cases suppliers to other museums within their own countries as well as abroad. Such is the case of the Colombian network of small science  centers called Lilliput which originally started in Bogotá and then spread to other parts of the country. In Chile the national network Explora of the National Council for the Development of Science and Technology has played a fundamental role in the development of various projects for the public communication of science throughout the country including science museums such as the Museo Interactivo Mirador (Santiago) and the CICAT (Concepción). In Mexico the Mexican Society for the Communication of Science and Technology has been played an important role in the development of field throughout the country. As for science museums, two institutions have served as a support to others both within the country and abroad: The Children‘s Museum Papalote and UNIVERSUM, the Science Museum of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In Uruguay, science clubs were created by the Ministry of Education and Culture to spread science throughout the country, while hands on activities were promoted by private institutions like Ciencia Viva and the Technological Laboratory of Uruguay. However, even though the cultural and emotional links between Latin American nations are strong, the diversity in the different regions within each of these countries must be taken into account. Some nations take great pride in their Precolombian heritage with an important percentage of the population being descendants of these first inhabitants. In other Latin American countries a considerable part of their population is composed of European immigrants and their descendants. Therefore, considering the New Museology approach, based on a permanent dialogue with the context and its potential visitors, Latin American museums have developed their own proposals, models and know-how considering the cultural backgrounds, needs and interests of their local communities, without losing the global view. In this session we share some examples from four different countries. Claudia Aguirre will talk about Parque Explora in Medellín, Colombia. Based on both foreign and national experiences, this museum has developed their own models by using extensive evaluation. It has a strong tie with its community and an intensive outreach program. Luz Lindegaard offers an account of the evolution of the Museo Interactivo Mirador (MIM) in Santiago, Chile. MIM, which started out as a government project with the patronage of Chile‘s main companies. Now is the largest science center in the country with a highly valued and recognized by the whole
community brand, which allows us to work in collaboration with private, public, academic and scientific community making significant and numerous outreach. Elaine Reynoso presents the cases of two science museums of the UNAM: UNIVERSUM and the Museum of Light. With an academic approach  based on previous experience in the field of science communication, a close relationship with the scientific community and the UNAM’s  infrastructure, these museums were designed for the local Mexican public. The glocal model for developing museums will be  discussed. Martha Cambre will offers an analysis of how Espacio Ciencia has evolved: since the beginning looking foward for 70 external advice to find their place in the community with a recognized brand and developing their own proposals. Some of the common challenges our museums face are how to serve different sectors of the community, including those who do not visit the museums; the establishment of effective relationships with the educational system; the survival of these institutions in spite of economical and political changes and the need to keep up to date both in science topics presented as well as the new trends in science museums. Similarities and differences of such issues as well as strategies for
addressing them will be discussed.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Science centres in Latin America
From global to glocal

Martha Cambre   Espacio Ciencia Laboratorio Tecnológico del Uruguay, Uruguay

Claudia Aguirre   Parque Explora Medellín, Colombia

Luz Lindegaard   Museo Interactivo Mirador, Chile

Elaine Reynoso Haynes   Universidad Nacional de Mexico and Sociedad Mexicana para la Divulgación de la Ciencia y la Técnica, Mexico

As in other parts of the world, science museums in Latin America have their origin in private collections which opened up to the public in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century with the double mission of conservation and education. Although some hands-on museums appeared in the sixties, the boom of interactive science museums in the region began in the mid 80’s or early 90’s, a bit later than their peers in Europe and North America. These first museums were inspired on the existing models such as the Exploratorium, the Ontario Science Centre and the Cité des Sciences et L‘industrie. The concept of low cost interactive exhibits presented in the Exploratorium‘s cookbooks, the combination of science and everyday topics such as sports in the Ontario Science Center and the travelling exhibitions offered by the Cite´s were some of the ingredients incorporated into the early stages of development of these first Latin American museums. Due to the cultural affinity these firts museums served as models, advisors and in some cases suppliers to other museums within their own countries as well as abroad. Such is the case of the Colombian network of small science  centers called Lilliput which originally started in Bogotá and then spread to other parts of the country. In Chile the national network Explora of the National Council for the Development of Science and Technology has played a fundamental role in the development of various projects for the public communication of science throughout the country including science museums such as the Museo Interactivo Mirador (Santiago) and the CICAT (Concepción). In Mexico the Mexican Society for the Communication of Science and Technology has been played an important role in the development of field throughout the country. As for science museums, two institutions have served as a support to others both within the country and abroad: The Children‘s Museum Papalote and UNIVERSUM, the Science Museum of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. In Uruguay, science clubs were created by the Ministry of Education and Culture to spread science throughout the country, while hands on activities were promoted by private institutions like Ciencia Viva and the Technological Laboratory of Uruguay. However, even though the cultural and emotional links between Latin American nations are strong, the diversity in the different regions within each of these countries must be taken into account. Some nations take great pride in their Precolombian heritage with an important percentage of the population being descendants of these first inhabitants. In other Latin American countries a considerable part of their population is composed of European immigrants and their descendants. Therefore, considering the New Museology approach, based on a permanent dialogue with the context and its potential visitors, Latin American museums have developed their own proposals, models and know-how considering the cultural backgrounds, needs and interests of their local communities, without losing the global view. In this session we share some examples from four different countries. Claudia Aguirre will talk about Parque Explora in Medellín, Colombia. Based on both foreign and national experiences, this museum has developed their own models by using extensive evaluation. It has a strong tie with its community and an intensive outreach program. Luz Lindegaard offers an account of the evolution of the Museo Interactivo Mirador (MIM) in Santiago, Chile. MIM, which started out as a government project with the patronage of Chile‘s main companies. Now is the largest science center in the country with a highly valued and recognized by the whole
community brand, which allows us to work in collaboration with private, public, academic and scientific community making significant and numerous outreach. Elaine Reynoso presents the cases of two science museums of the UNAM: UNIVERSUM and the Museum of Light. With an academic approach  based on previous experience in the field of science communication, a close relationship with the scientific community and the UNAM’s  infrastructure, these museums were designed for the local Mexican public. The glocal model for developing museums will be  discussed. Martha Cambre will offers an analysis of how Espacio Ciencia has evolved: since the beginning looking foward for 70 external advice to find their place in the community with a recognized brand and developing their own proposals. Some of the common challenges our museums face are how to serve different sectors of the community, including those who do not visit the museums; the establishment of effective relationships with the educational system; the survival of these institutions in spite of economical and political changes and the need to keep up to date both in science topics presented as well as the new trends in science museums. Similarities and differences of such issues as well as strategies for
addressing them will be discussed.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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