Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry is situated within easy walking distance of the city centre and worth visiting. It is a large site and difficult to see all in one visit; thus I wonder if I happened upon a particularly poor route through the few exhibits I did see.
For the Curators
I long for a science museum that caters to adults as well as children. Kids are easily entertained and school field trips are clearly a target audience for most educational establishments.
But please also teach me, an adult, about science and industry. I care too. Do not assume I know anything about the exhibit. Do not assume I have a background in the subject. Instead assume I am open and willing to learn something profound and a touch complex. Walk me through the stages and steps that led to an event or outcome. Never talk down to me. Never treat me like a fool.
There has been a trend towards science communicators explicitly saying “we do not know everything” or “we do not yet understand”; these are great sentiments to get across and entice interest. I want to see this expressed more in museums.
The Museum of Science and Industry clearly lacks funds to maintain it exhibits. Many are worn or broken. Buttons missing, mechanisms failing.
I have seen this time and time again in museums during our travels. Exhibits left to slowly decay. The staff must recognise the problems; label them. A small “sorry out of order” notice would be helpful. It would acknowledge, publicly, the problems. Rather than leaving each visitor to wonder afresh if something should be happening or if they misunderstood the intent of the display.
This post should not feel so difficult to write. I want great science museums and it pains me to highlight problems or to publish negative opinions. Too many museums cater for kids at an age where almost any brightly coloured, loud, exhibit would entertain.
The Museum of Science and Industry is a good museum and it is free but it is not great. And I dearly want it to be great.