Accepted paper:

Science communication in science centres and museums: Return to their core business


Erik Stengler (University of the West of England, Bristol)
Guillermo Fernández
Sarah Jenkins
Hannah Owen (University of the West of England)

Paper short abstract:

Paper long abstract:

Despite the overwhelmingly strong trend towards dialogical science communication, it is being realised that there is still room and demand by the public for one-way science communication. Even many of those who had seemingly embraced dialogue as the new paradigm have not really adopted this approach in their practice. In fact, certain formats just do not lend themselves to dialogical engagement, science centres and museums being but one example. In many cases, the feeling that dialogue had to be introduced at all costs has led science centres away from their core business and to embark in a number of activities, events and initiatives which have brought them to compete at a disadvantage with powerful entertainment providers, deepening their identity crisis. We analyse the role of science centres in the context of science communication, and discuss how they can solve this identity crisis by looking back at their origins and focussing on what is the basis of their uniqueness, namely the museological language. This does not need to be at odds with, but rather reinforces, the importance of interactivity, by putting it into the broader and richer context of the exhibition-visitor communication of science.

panel C1
Studying science communication