I have a piece on the Guardian’s Notes and Theories science blog today on the Science Museum’s new gallery on climate science, Atmosphere.
As with the whole of the Wellcome Wing it sits within, Atmosphere is very blue. There isn’t a huge amount more I can say about the place, but here are some photos from my phone while I was visiting. I do think the gallery is exceedingly pretty, but I did leave feeling none the wiser (note: by “wiser” I mean I left without new questions to ask, as well as without new answers).
That Atmosphere provided more of an aesthetic experience than an education one isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Maybe one of the ways in which museums work is by being slightly abstractly and beautifully inspiring, to encourage to you go away and learn more elsewhere, or simply reflect on what you already know. That said, I didn’t feel all that inspired either. Maybe I’m not the target audience.
In the Guardian post I posed some of the questions I think the museum must have faced in developing this gallery:
Should museums aim to teach their audiences, or offer space for self-directed learning and debate?
Should publicly funded science communication avoid taking sides on controversial topics, or work as advocates for a scientific view?
Should climate science present a united front to the public, or reflect diversity and uncertainties within the scientific community?
I could probably also add: “Should museums provide largely written content, or simply connect you to books/ websites elsewhere and concentrate on making use of space and objects?” I don’t have any definitive answers to these questions, but maybe you have a opinion on them?