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Are science museums failing grownups?

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Do you feel like you're too old to enjoy a science museum? Do you wish science exhibits focused less on the basic science that kids are likely to study in the classroom, and more on technologies of tomorrow like synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, and nanomachines? Wouldn't it be nice to learn about science from somewhere other than — ahem — science journalism?

Well, according to this piece by BoingBoing's Maggie Koerth-Baker, you're not alone. She writes:

Right now, science museums are not bad places for adults. And they don't ignore adults completely. I don't want to imply that. Evidence shows that adults visit these museums and learn from them. But there are problems with the status quo and those show through in the evidence, as well.

Reach Advisors is a firm that focuses on museum audience research. In a 2008 survey of adult American museum visitors, they found that more than 80% of the respondents to a multiple choice survey said science museums best served children and families. And 59% said the museums best served school groups. Just 22% said adults were best served, and only 17% said teens.

In that same survey, the respondents gave answers that implied they felt the science museum was for children, not for them. They talked about their kids becoming "too old for the science museum." They expressed surprise that the museum was supposed to be a place where they learned something, too.


You can read more about the sense of disillusionment adults feel towards science museums, what we can do about the current situation, and some examples of museums that seem to know what adults want over on BoingBoing.

Top image from pahudson's photostream via BoingBoing