“The Company We Keep”: Help Us Gather the Stories of Their Museum Experiences

The ASTC office in Washington, D.C., is only a few Metro stops away from the National Library of Congress, which houses among its treasures a compilation of oral and written testimonials from those who have witnessed history. Testimonials personalize events; they bind the presenters and listeners through common thoughts and feelings. Stories are much richer through first-hand telling.

In thinking about these historical testimonials, it occurs to me that so many fascinating individuals have passed through the doors of our science centers and museums and experienced so much. If we are judged by the company we keep, then we are no doubt judged favorably for the company of so many curious and inspired folks who have chosen to spend their precious time with us.

Too often and too easily, we refer to these knowledge seekers in generalized numerical terms more associated with revenue streams and statistical trends. Though the numbers are indeed impressive, we should remember that these are individuals who have consciously selected science, however briefly, as their domain of interest. And their visits to our institutions often yield new experiences and lasting memories. For some, science center visits inspire lifetimes of exploration, satisfaction, and even significant contributions to the global good.

ASTC would like to translate these personal experiences of our visitors into a collective expression of the inspirational value of our entire field. To emphasize this point, we are particularly eager to obtain testimonials from the “high achievers” in our society who can trace their interests, and maybe even their successes, back to profound science center and museum experiences.

If you know individuals who would be willing to share such testimonials for our wider communications efforts, please send their names and contact information to, or ask that they do this themselves. We will reach out to them in brief, recorded telephone interviews. It is our hope that you will give some thought to those whose testimonials might carry the most power and weight.

To start us off, here is a quote drawn from a testimonial by actor and writer Kate McGroarty, reflecting on her experience living at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry for a month in 2010: “I learned that science is beautiful, engaging, and just about everywhere. It amazes me, intrigues me, and excites me. I’m sure this is the beginning of a lifetime relationship with science and everything that comes along with it.”