In 1999, science (and technology) communicators in Germany got a big PUSH when the major German science organisations (Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Max Planck Gesellschaft, and others) expressly supported several measures to promote dialogue between science and society and committed themselves to do all they can to implement it within their own environment (PUSH = “Public Understanding of Science and the Humanities”). Even the politicians are now willing to spend more money on science communication.

However, the promoters of this new dialogue in Germany all too often underestimate the role of (science & technology) museums. This is surprising, because museums place an emphasis on education / science communication rather than “only” on collections and research. Take as an example the mission of the Deutsches Museum from its beginnings in 1903: It can be summarized as to raise the Public Understanding of Science and Technology.

What is special about education in museums? Museums offer a close encounter with the real object and phenomenon. Museums are in a position to entertain and thereby teach and educate millions of visitors of every kind who come voluntarily. Exhibitions can be wandered into and out at whatever pace and in any direction the visitors want.

A workshop that was organized by the Deutsches Museum in September 2000 focused on the role of museums in science communication and brought together people from science and technology museums and centres, PUS-practitioners from other media such as science journalists, as well as researchers from educational science and didactics. This meeting made evident possible synergies in cooperations between various media, and it showed the importance of research: Research on science communication in museums can help to transmit knowledge on science, technology, and their embeddedness in society more efficiently. This research includes evaluating the visitor’s experience and trying to find answers to such basic questions as “What is a good exhibition?”.



 
 

">
 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Museums and the public understanding of science in Germany

Weitze Marc Denis   Deutsches Museum

In 1999, science (and technology) communicators in Germany got a big PUSH when the major German science organisations (Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Max Planck Gesellschaft, and others) expressly supported several measures to promote dialogue between science and society and committed themselves to do all they can to implement it within their own environment (PUSH = “Public Understanding of Science and the Humanities”). Even the politicians are now willing to spend more money on science communication.

However, the promoters of this new dialogue in Germany all too often underestimate the role of (science & technology) museums. This is surprising, because museums place an emphasis on education / science communication rather than “only” on collections and research. Take as an example the mission of the Deutsches Museum from its beginnings in 1903: It can be summarized as to raise the Public Understanding of Science and Technology.

What is special about education in museums? Museums offer a close encounter with the real object and phenomenon. Museums are in a position to entertain and thereby teach and educate millions of visitors of every kind who come voluntarily. Exhibitions can be wandered into and out at whatever pace and in any direction the visitors want.

A workshop that was organized by the Deutsches Museum in September 2000 focused on the role of museums in science communication and brought together people from science and technology museums and centres, PUS-practitioners from other media such as science journalists, as well as researchers from educational science and didactics. This meeting made evident possible synergies in cooperations between various media, and it showed the importance of research: Research on science communication in museums can help to transmit knowledge on science, technology, and their embeddedness in society more efficiently. This research includes evaluating the visitor’s experience and trying to find answers to such basic questions as “What is a good exhibition?”.



 
 

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

BACK TO TOP