The exhibition of scientific principles

a case study from the Biological Sciences Museum at Macquarie University

Morwenna Pearce, Andrew Simpson

    Research output: Contribution to journalConference paper


    The educational role of museums requires that exhibition practice be informed by sound scholarship. In a university science museum, exhibitions should deploy objects and use space in a way that exemplifies the scientific principles that underpin learning and teaching programs of the host department or faculty. In this paper, a form of diacritical analysis of a number of individual exhibitions in the Biological Sciences Museum at Macquarie University is applied to elucidate these scientific principles. The analysis has significance when considering potential audiences. Visitors to the museum who are enrolled as undergraduates within the host department will bring existing knowledge to the museum. In this example, students should have existing knowledge of evolution, adaptation and comparative morphology. Other visiting audiences may not. Therefore, a university museum that wishes to engage with audiences beyond the discipline-specific student body need to strike a balance and carefully frame their exhibition work in a way that does not alienate those already familiar with the underlying principles of the didactic content. It is proposed that this form of pedagogic methodology can be constructively applied to inform exhibition work in other scientific disciplines.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)163-174
    Number of pages12
    JournalUniversity Museums and Collections Journal
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    Event9th Conference of the International Committee of ICOM for University Museums and Collections (UMAC) - Berkeley, CA
    Duration: 10 Sep 200913 Sep 2009

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