Ah, President’s Day. What passions dost thou inflame?
OK, not much, although I do get the day off, which is quite nice. So here’s the link dump:
Center for the Future of Museums has a well-done essay on science museums having to face the choice of tackling topics that can be politically radioactive like evolution and climate change. Should museums potentially alienate their audiences with those topics, at the threat to their futures?
I wasn’t able to comment due to the captcha system on the blog, so here is my reaction: I’m not thrilled to admit it, but I’d fall more on the pragmatist side than the idealist. While not in a museum setting, I have experienced a few audience revolts against things that were and are correct, and the results can be devastating for an institution and especially the people who are doing the work.
That said, I don’t think that “Our community won’t accept this” should be a final assessment for a museum. Instead, “Our community won’t accept this now” would be a more positive approach, followed by asking what we can do to create an environment that is more accepting of information about those views.
Evolution and climate change are especially tough; public discourse about them has almost nothing to do with science and everything to do with culture wars. So, in a community that is culturally hostile to those topics, how can a museum create a space where they can be discussed on their scientific basis? Does it require going back to the basics of science–what is a theory, how are they tested, and so on? Or perhaps focusing on scientists as people, rather than an abstract group that’s so much easier to demonize?
I’m not sure what the answer is, but I think that’s a worthwhile place to start.
The rest of the link dump:
At Know Your Own Bone, some very worthwhile research: People go to museums for the experience, and more importantly, the experience of going with people they care about. Sell appropriately.
From The Awl, some good advice on dealing with ungood people at work.
From Beth’s Blog, a report on a panel about reporting the impact of social media to stakeholders.
From Treehugger: Bees have long been known to dance to communicate with each other. Turns out they also use it as a warning to other animals. Or as Treehugger puts it: “Giving the finger” to hornets.