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Viewpoints

What misconceptions about science centers and museums do you wish you could correct?

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of Dimensions magazine. The biggest misconception about science centers that I would like to correct is the idea that a science center is a place for children only. Many people associate interactivity with “for children.” Many adults see the interaction with an exhibit as playing and... Read More

Do smartphones and their cameras enhance or detract from the museum experience (or can they do both)?

This is an extended discussion of the question that appeared in the Viewpoints department of the May/June 2016 issue of Dimensions magazine. I will not tell people whether or not they will have a better experience with or without those kind of media or technologies. We put up our “Photography Encouraged” signs [in the exhibition... Read More

Has your institution used any creative or “outside-the-box” methods to attract visitors?

This is an extended discussion of the question that appeared in the Viewpoints department of the January/February 2016 issue of Dimensions magazine. In November 2015, the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History teamed up with the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for a very successful “outside-the-box” program that was actually an “inside-the-box” experience! In conjunction... Read More

If you could go back, what advice would you give yourself when you first started your museum or informal education career?

This is an extended discussion of the question that appeared in the Viewpoints department of the September/October 2015 issue of Dimensions magazine.   Before my first nonprofit management position (in England), I wish I could have coached my newbie self: learn about spreadsheets, practice daily meditation and stretching, and schedule physical exercise and play time... Read More

How do you envision 3D printing finding a place in science centers and museums? Do you already use or have plans for 3D printing?

This is an extended discussion of the question that appeared in the Viewpoints department of the May/June 2015 issue of Dimensions magazine.   “. . . 3D printing and design can electrify various literacies and creative capacities of children in accordance with the spirit of the interconnected, information-based world.” —V. Kostakis, V. Niaros, and C.... Read More

Do you think science centers and museums should use crowdfunding resources (like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo) to raise funds for exhibits and events?

This is an extended discussion of the question that appeared in the Viewpoints department of the March/April 2015 issue of Dimensions magazine.   Denver Zoo recently completed its first crowdfunding initiative for a veterinary device for our giraffes. We feel crowdfunding was a useful tool to market this project and get more than 40 first-time... Read More

Do you think the current surge of making and tinkering spaces in science centers and museums is a temporary fad, or are they here to stay?

This is an extended discussion of the question that appeared in the Viewpoints department of the May/June 2014 issue of Dimensions magazine. Making and tinkering are not fads. Their presence in science centers and museums may be a fad for many, but “making” is a human biological imperative. We are the species that makes over... Read More

How much is too much technology in a science center or museum, or is the sky the limit? Does it engage or distract?

This is an extended discussion of the question that appeared in the Viewpoints department of the January/February 2014 issue of Dimensions magazine. Good examples of technology gone bad can often be traced to poor design. Does the design of an interactive cause visitors to isolate from others, or does it support social engagement? Does the... Read More

When are evaluation and other visitor feedback strategies the most useful for helping advance a science center’s mission? When are such strategies less successful?

This is an extended discussion of the question that appeared in the Viewpoints department of the September/October 2013 issue of Dimensions magazine. Evaluation is a powerful tool for providing visitors with a voice, which then enables us to stay relevant to their needs and motivations. The goal of any exhibit or program is to engage... Read More