At the Science Museum of Minnesota we believe that exhibits should:
- Provide environments that engage and inspire visitors' curiosity, encourage their sense of play, and reward their participation and experimentation with understanding.
- Make objects "come alive" and help visitors build connections between those objects and associated ideas, issues, and phenomena.
- Allow for change and modification to accommodate new scientific discoveries and new perspectives.
- Involve visitors informally but directly in the experimental process of science (playing with apparatuses, forming hypotheses, setting up simple experiments, observing results, and forming conclusions).
- Engage visitors in considering issues and ethical questions related to science that are relevant to their lives.
Two central themes lie at the foundation of our exhibition philosophy:
- Exhibits are most effective when they present science in a multidisciplinary context of everyday human experience.
- Children and adults learn about science by doing science.
Exhibits developed by the Science Museum combine traditional object displays with the innovative activity-centered experiences of science and technology centers, reflecting the dual nature of the Museum and its approach to science education. This blending of tradition and innovation enables the Science Museum to serve a diverse audience.
The Science Museum of Minnesota uses varied exhibit techniques to accommodate different visitor interests and learning styles:
- Experimental components create an open-ended experience, providing equipment and materials to encourage visitors to explore a phenomenon in depth.
- Interactive components allow visitors to demonstrate for themselves a specific phenomenon or scientific concept, or to respond to social issues related to science and technology.
- Contemplative components are designed to stimulate observation and thought, but do not require hands-on interaction. These appeal to visitors whose first instinct may be to look or watch rather than to manipulate.
Components in all these categories can be designed to enhance learning by stimulating conversation and social interaction, increasing visitor involvement with the exhibits.