Introduction
A new network of key actors in PCS&T has been created in November 2000 to study and experiment ways  of  international  co-operation  between  NHM.  The  objective  of  the  presentation  is  to  stimulate interest of researchers and practitioners in PCS&T to ensure consistency and relevancy of the topic to be studied within this network (call for external expertise).

Membership
Co-ordinator : Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (BE)
Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris (FR)
Naturalis (NL)
The London Natural History Museum (UK)
Swedish Museum of Natural History (SW)

Objectives
Establish formal co-operation to share experience on a long-term basis

Mobilise  means  and  time  in  a  formal  framework  to  intensify  exchanges  at  different  levels  between NHMs  willing  to  work  together  around  a  concrete  project  aiming  at  raising  public  awareness  in natural sciences.

Demonstrate  the  efficiency  of  a  combined  approach  at  EU  level  by  co-producing  a  science  based touring exhibition integrating museum requirements.

Establish  and  disseminate  to  other  NHMs/Science  centres   guidelines  for  repetition  of  this  new experience.

Research domain
Preliminary  meetings  between  NHL  have  shown  that  differences  in  recent  practices  represents  a tremendous  pack  of  information  very  relevant.  For  instance,  there  is   no  systematic  visitor  research within NHMs when displaying temporary exhibitions.

Evaluation of the impact: common criteria such as numbers of visitors, response from the media, and informal  visitor  feedback  are  more  or  less  evaluated;  inter-comparison  remain  difficult  even  if  many data are already available (but not yet harmonised).

The strategy to attract school groups appears not to be the same in all countries, but seems to be a very crucial  parameter  for  the  concept  design  of  a  natural  science  exhibition.  How  to  imagine  a  common production if at the same time NHMs should follow closely their national school curricula.

More  important  is  the  question  of  the  presentation  of  collections  for  pedagogic  purposes:  CASTEX partners  must  exploit  this  patrimony  as  a  "competitive/comparative"  advantage  to  overcome  the competition of leisure centres (where no education is offered) and assume the comparison with science centres where hands-on exhibits and new interactive displays are key-factors in attracting visitors.

Another point already identified is the legal status  of  NHMs: some  are  public  institutions, others  are totally  private  bodies  and  in  other  cases  the  internal  structure  (financial  autonomy  of  a  Department within an institution for instance) should be taken in account.

Finally in this list we should also mention the fact that institutions hosting NHMs are also very often research  centres.  The  question  of  the  implication  (for  exhibition  design)  of  these  scientists  differs widely from one NHM to the other.

Methodology
The  concrete  workplan  of  the  network  is  to  organise  regular  and  structured  meetings  allowing specialised persons in charge of NHM and external expertise :

•To exchange their data and best practices relating to scientific exhibition development particular to NHMs; 
•To  constitute  an  international  staff  representing  a  total  expertise  of  a  higher  level  than  those existing at Member State level taken separately; 
•To  meet  the  economic  conditions  necessary  for   the  production  of  a  great  exhibition  for  a European audience out of reach of a national institution; 
•To deliver a project unique in the NHM sector: the joint production of an exhibition, exceeding simple collaboration (addition of competencies and means) ;
•To  evaluate  all  dimensions  of  this  challenge,  identify  key-factors,  analyse  problems  and  how solutions in order to draw a set of practical guidelines useful to other NHMs and Science centres.
•To  integrate  user’s  requirements  (other  NHMs/Science  centres)  to  guarantee  touring  of  the exhibition.

Breakdown of the study
 
Inter-institutional aspects
Define best frameworks for European co-production of scientific touring exhibitions.
 
Cultural and development aspects
To share museologic, scientific and educational approaches for raising public awareness in the natural sciences.
 
Technical aspects
To share know-how and best practices to build a large scientific exhibition.

Co-ordination and transfer of the results 
To ensure broad dissemination of findings and recommendations to co-produce touring exhibitions at European level.


 











 

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 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

What is the role and position for NHM in communicating science to the society

Olivier Retout   International Relations at the Royal Belgium Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels

Introduction
A new network of key actors in PCS&T has been created in November 2000 to study and experiment ways  of  international  co-operation  between  NHM.  The  objective  of  the  presentation  is  to  stimulate interest of researchers and practitioners in PCS&T to ensure consistency and relevancy of the topic to be studied within this network (call for external expertise).

Membership
Co-ordinator : Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (BE)
Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris (FR)
Naturalis (NL)
The London Natural History Museum (UK)
Swedish Museum of Natural History (SW)

Objectives
Establish formal co-operation to share experience on a long-term basis

Mobilise  means  and  time  in  a  formal  framework  to  intensify  exchanges  at  different  levels  between NHMs  willing  to  work  together  around  a  concrete  project  aiming  at  raising  public  awareness  in natural sciences.

Demonstrate  the  efficiency  of  a  combined  approach  at  EU  level  by  co-producing  a  science  based touring exhibition integrating museum requirements.

Establish  and  disseminate  to  other  NHMs/Science  centres   guidelines  for  repetition  of  this  new experience.

Research domain
Preliminary  meetings  between  NHL  have  shown  that  differences  in  recent  practices  represents  a tremendous  pack  of  information  very  relevant.  For  instance,  there  is   no  systematic  visitor  research within NHMs when displaying temporary exhibitions.

Evaluation of the impact: common criteria such as numbers of visitors, response from the media, and informal  visitor  feedback  are  more  or  less  evaluated;  inter-comparison  remain  difficult  even  if  many data are already available (but not yet harmonised).

The strategy to attract school groups appears not to be the same in all countries, but seems to be a very crucial  parameter  for  the  concept  design  of  a  natural  science  exhibition.  How  to  imagine  a  common production if at the same time NHMs should follow closely their national school curricula.

More  important  is  the  question  of  the  presentation  of  collections  for  pedagogic  purposes:  CASTEX partners  must  exploit  this  patrimony  as  a  "competitive/comparative"  advantage  to  overcome  the competition of leisure centres (where no education is offered) and assume the comparison with science centres where hands-on exhibits and new interactive displays are key-factors in attracting visitors.

Another point already identified is the legal status  of  NHMs: some  are  public  institutions, others  are totally  private  bodies  and  in  other  cases  the  internal  structure  (financial  autonomy  of  a  Department within an institution for instance) should be taken in account.

Finally in this list we should also mention the fact that institutions hosting NHMs are also very often research  centres.  The  question  of  the  implication  (for  exhibition  design)  of  these  scientists  differs widely from one NHM to the other.

Methodology
The  concrete  workplan  of  the  network  is  to  organise  regular  and  structured  meetings  allowing specialised persons in charge of NHM and external expertise :

•To exchange their data and best practices relating to scientific exhibition development particular to NHMs; 
•To  constitute  an  international  staff  representing  a  total  expertise  of  a  higher  level  than  those existing at Member State level taken separately; 
•To  meet  the  economic  conditions  necessary  for   the  production  of  a  great  exhibition  for  a European audience out of reach of a national institution; 
•To deliver a project unique in the NHM sector: the joint production of an exhibition, exceeding simple collaboration (addition of competencies and means) ;
•To  evaluate  all  dimensions  of  this  challenge,  identify  key-factors,  analyse  problems  and  how solutions in order to draw a set of practical guidelines useful to other NHMs and Science centres.
•To  integrate  user’s  requirements  (other  NHMs/Science  centres)  to  guarantee  touring  of  the exhibition.

Breakdown of the study
 
Inter-institutional aspects
Define best frameworks for European co-production of scientific touring exhibitions.
 
Cultural and development aspects
To share museologic, scientific and educational approaches for raising public awareness in the natural sciences.
 
Technical aspects
To share know-how and best practices to build a large scientific exhibition.

Co-ordination and transfer of the results 
To ensure broad dissemination of findings and recommendations to co-produce touring exhibitions at European level.


 











 

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

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