“Death on Display:” Reflections on Taxidermy and Children’s Understanding of Life and Death

Abstract. Taxidermic collections have become perceived as extraneous in modern museums, and as such have become vulnerable to disassembly during periods of economic austerity and/or shifts in curatorial perceptions. In this paper we argue that rich educational opportunities could be lost through such actions. We highlight the ways that taxidermy provides a useful context for learning […]

Aesthetics and Astronomy: How Museum Labels Affect the Understanding and Appreciation of Deep-Space Images

Abstract. How can we best communicate to museum visitors the science that underlies the incredible images of space that are generated through the data collected from satellites and observatories? The Aesthetics and Astronomy Group, a collection of astrophysicists, space image developers, science communication experts, and research psychologists, has studied how individuals respond to space-image descriptions […]

Artifacts, Identity and Youth: A Cultural Intervention with Pacific Islander Young People Who Offend in Western Sydney, Australia

Abstract. This article provides information on the evaluation of a project between the Australian Museum and the Juvenile Justice department in New South Wales, Australia, where young people who offend of Pacific Islander heritage were introduced to an extensive range of Pacific Islander cultural materials. The key assumption of the project was that young Pacific […]

Fakes on Display: Special Exhibitions of Counterfeit Art

Abstract. Since the mid-twentieth century, special exhibitions of art forgeries have appeared in many museums in the United States and Europe. These exhibitions have displayed artworks of many kinds, and have been structured around a variety of objectives and methodologies to engage the public. Fundamentally, they inform that public about an uncomfortable reality: that artistic […]

Museum Monsters and Victorious Viruses: Improving Public Understanding of Emerging Biomedical Research

Abstract. Although microbes directly impact everyone’s health, most people have limited knowledge about them. In this article, we describe a museum and media public education campaign aimed at helping diverse audiences better understand emerging knowledge about microbes and infectious disease. Funded primarily by the Science Education Partnership (SEPA) program of the National Institutes of Health, […]

Strategies against Architecture: Interactive Media and Transformative Technology at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Abstract. After being closed for three years, the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum reopened at the end of 2014 a transformed museum in a renovated heritage building: Andrew Carnegie’s former home on the Upper East Side of New York City. New galleries, a collection that was being rapidly digitized, a new brand, and a desire […]

Child-centered Practice in Museums: Experiential Learning through Creative Play at the Ipswich Art Gallery

Abstract. Over the past two decades, museums and galleries have significantly expanded the scope and diversity of programs and exhibitions offered to children, families and schools. Parents and teachers are increasingly interested in curated public play spaces for children in the early years (from birth to eight years old), and they actively search for accessibility, […]

Where Pop Meets Purl: Knitting, the Curation of Craft, and the Folk/Mass Culture Divide

Abstract. Since the 1970s, the de-differentiation of high and low culture has legitimized the curation of craft and popular culture. The curation of some crafts, such as quilting, has assisted in reducing art-craft distinctions, and the exhibition of fashion and popular music has highlighted links between folk culture (e.g., stories, songs, and crafts) and mass […]