Archive for October, 2008

Insect zoos

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008 by Wendy Pollock

ExhibitFiles member Beth-Redmond Jones is looking for good examples of insect zoos (and also life science/ecology halls). Does anyone have a review to contribute?

(The photo, right, was taken by Christine Ruffo of ASTC during the ASTC Annual Conference in Philadelphia two weeks ago. It’s in the Academy of Natural Sciences Butterflies! exhibition.)


Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008 by Jim Spadaccini

Over the last 18 months, we’ve received a lot of suggestions for new features for the ExhibitFiles site. One recurring request is to allow members to post not just full Case Studies or Reviews of exhibits and exhibitions, but short message or media elements. In other words, members could share one image (or video) or just an idea or a question. We’ve been thinking about how best to incorporate this potential new feature.

We want to make it easy to add media so we are envisioning a system that would allow for direct uploads to the ExhibitFiles server or links to images on Flickr, videos on YouTube, along with other services.

Here’s a few mock-ups of how it might work. The first one shows the “Add” page, where members are asked what they would like to contribute to the ExhibitFiles site.

The next screen shows how the ‘Bits main page might look. (Obviously, the gray thumbnails would be populated with images.)

Finally, here’s a mock-up of an individual ‘Bits page. We’re hoping to add the ability to make comments that have associated media files. Notice there is an integrated media-player. This improvement would also be added to Case Studies and Reviews.

This is all preliminary and we’re still working through the details. I didn’t post the proposed form for adding ‘Bits, as this has many layers due to the multiple choices.  (There are lot’s of options for that screen, since we are allowing members to include images and video that already exists on external social media platforms).

We’re open to any comments or questions you might have about ‘Bits. We’ll let you know how this all progresses.

Universal design: share your stories

Friday, October 17th, 2008 by Wendy Pollock

An Inquiry Group working under the auspices of the Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE) is looking to catalog efforts that make informal science education experiences more inclusive of people with disabilities. Founded in 2007 with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), CAISE is a center that works across the entire spectrum of informal science education to strengthen the community’s ability to gather evidence, communicate value, and improve practice.

The Inquiry Group wants to understand:
1. In what ways has the informal science education community worked in the past to include people with disabilities in informal science learning?
2. What does this prior work tell us about actions that should be taken in the future?

If you or your institution has been working to increase access to science education for people with disabilities through informal learning, you can help by completing this survey:

The survey isn’t limited to exhibitions. But if your work involves exhibitions, we also hope you will post a case study here on ExhibitFiles. (You could refer to it in the CAISE survey, so you don’t have to enter information twice.)

This will help CAISE, and everyone in the informal science education field, to become aware of the good work you have been doing—and, of equal importance, the challenges you encountered.

Thank you for helping.

ExhibitFiles favorites

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008 by Wendy Pollock

If you’re a member of ExhibitFiles, and you haven’t yet “favorited” a case study or review, this would be a good time to start. Just a year and a half after the site initially opened, 69 members have taken time to post 137 case studies and reviews, helping to build a common resource for all of us who work with exhibitions.

But many other members are helping, too, by adding tags and comments, and by marking “favorites.” Over time, “favorites” help site users to browse by “popularity.”

We’ll be recognizing some contributions (and contributors) during the ExhibitFiles brunch at the ASTC conference coming up in Philadelphia. Hope to see some of you there.


The diorama: a place of dreams?

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008 by Wendy Pollock

Joel Bloom, longtime director of the Franklin Institute and ASTC’s first president, died on September 23. As many of us recall, Joel used to speak movingly of his childhood memories of dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History. An obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted one of his speeches: “One of my favorite exhibits was a magnificent Haida war canoe from the Northwest Coast. I would stand beside this canoe and think and dream…I don’t know if I would have become a scientist and then a museum director if that canoe had not inspired me.”  The museum was a “place of dreams,” Joel said.

Dioramas are one of the puzzles of contemporary museum planning. If you have quiet halls and beautiful, old dioramas, what do you do with them? ExhibitFiles member Colin Purrington points out that the diorama in his photo, shown here, is even toxic. What do you think?

If you’re going to the ASTC Annual Conference in Philadelphia next week, there’s an opportunity to pay a call on some venerable dioramas, like this one from the Academy of Natural Sciences. You can find out more about the Academy’s dioramas here.