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Science Center Exhibition Design – Part I

Science Center Exhibition Design – Part I

I have been enjoying writing in series.  So far, I have worked on Museum Exhibition Design, Museum Strategic Planning and Museum Trends (which has become it’s own website and now I would like to start a series about Science Center Exhibition Design.  In part, I was inspired by an article by By Edward Rothstein “The Thrill of Science, Tamed by Agendas” in the New York Times.  An excerpt from the article:

“A science museum is a kind of experiment. It demands the most elaborate equipment: Imax theaters, NASA space vehicles, collections of living creatures, digital planetarium projectors, fossilized bones. Into this mix are thrust tens of thousands of living human beings: children on holiday, weary or eager parents, devoted teachers, passionate aficionados and casual passers-by. And the experimenters watch, test, change, hoping….”

It is exactly this active visitor participation that got me first so excited about science centers in 1992 (when I started work at Liberty Science Center).  In the article Mr. Rothstein discusses several recent (the article was written in 2010) incarnations of new science centers.  What strikes me about the article and the examples is the sense of “experimentation” in Science Centers, each example is different in character and approach.  It is this sense of “experimentation” that is leading the museum field.   The blog series will explore how I see science centers leading the museum field.

Future posts in the “Science Center Exhibition Design” series will include; “A Definition of the Spectrum of Science Centers”, “A History of Science Centers”,”How Science Center Exhibition Design is Different”, “The Future of Science Centers” and the “The Future of Science Center Exhibition Design and Fabrication”.

Links to my previous exhibition design posts:
Part I, Museum Exhibition Design – Planning
Part II, Museum Exhibition Design – Design Phases
Part III Museum Exhibition Design – Fabrication
Part IV Museum Exhibition Design – Installation
Part V Museum Exhibition Design – Exhibition Maintenance
Traveling Exhibition Design
Science Center Exhibition Design

Link to the Largest Science Centers:
World’s Most Visited Science Centers

A listing of some of my favorite Science Centers (needs updating)

* Image by Museum Planning, LLC rendering of Trans Studio Science Center

About Mark Walhimer

Mark is Managing Partner of Museum Planning, LLC, a museum planning and exhibition project management firm of interactive educational environments for Science Centers, Children's Museums and Natural History Museums. You can reach Mark at

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  1. Erica Henkel-Karras

    This sounds like a fascinating series! I can’t wait to hear more!!!

  2. This is good news. I am currently doing research on experiential factors that influence visitors participation & immersion in science centre context..I hope to learn more from you! Thank You..terima kasih

  3. Hey Erica,
    Always good to hear from you! Thank you for the encouragement, Mark

  4. Dear Terima,
    Sounds like an interesting project ! Look forward to hearing of your findings, Mark

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