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Disseminating quality controlled scientific knowledge

The exhibition of scientific principles: a case study from the Biological Sciences Museum at Macquarie University

Author(s): Morwenna Pearce | Andrew Simpson

Journal: University Museums and Collections Journal
ISSN 2071-7229

Volume: 3;
Start page: 163;
Date: 2010;
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The educational role of museums requires that exhibition practice be informed by sound scholarship. In a university science museum, exhibitions should deploy objects and use space in a way that exemplifies the scientific principles that underpin learning and teaching programs of the host department or faculty. In this paper, a form of diacritical analysis of a number of individual exhibitions in the Biological Sciences Museum at Macquarie University is applied to elucidate these scientific principles. The analysis has significance when considering potential audiences. Visitors to the museum who are enrolled as undergraduates within the host department will bring existing knowledge to the museum. In this example, students should have existing knowledge of evolution, adaptation and comparative morphology. Other visiting audiences may not. Therefore, a university museum that wishes to engage with audiences beyond the discipline-specific student body need to strike a balance and carefully frame their exhibition work in a way that does not alienate those already familiar with the underlying principles of the didactic content. It is proposed that this form of pedagogic methodology can be constructively applied to inform exhibition work in other scientific disciplines.
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