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Seminars "Science and its publics". Los museos de ciencia (III): Science Centres con Christian Sichau de Experimenta, Heilbronn

23 y 24 de febrero en la Sala de Vidre-Facultat de Ciències-UAB y el aula seminario del CEHIC-UAB
sac 15/02/2010

Martes 23 de febrero (Sala de Vidre-Facultat de Ciències-UAB)

Oliver Hochadel (UAB/CEHIC): Introduction
Christian Sichau (Experimenta, Heilbronn): Hands-on? Minds-On? Understanding “understanding” in museums and science centres



Pedro Ruiz-Castell (UAB/CEHIC): Science centres: from external criticism to self-criticism

Beatriz Cantero (UAB/Didàctica de les ciències): The non-representation of women in Catalan science museums

Discussión general


Miércoles, 24 de febrero de 2010 (Aula seminario CEHIC-UAB) 16:30-18:00 hrs.

Christian Sichau (Experimenta, Heilbronn):  On display: The Atom – or the Bubble Chamber?
What do we actually show in a museum?

Museums of Science and Technology are confronted with the fundamental problem of presenting „science“ to a large audience with the help of apparatuses, instruments and machines used in research, teaching or production. Often, it is stated that museums provide such a good opportunity to learn “science” because there are real, tangible things on display – original apparatuses, models, or interactive exhibits. But is this not just wishful thinking? Or a deception?
What seems to be a large and shared commonsense for many actors involved in science communication might turn out to rest on shaky grounds. Without falling back into false dichotomies, it will be argued that a much deeper understanding of our aims and practices of display as well as an analysis of the role of artifacts in exhibitions is needed. In the presentation the argument will be explicated by looking into a history of “displaying the atom” in museums. By analyzing in detail what exhibitions in the 20th century actually put on display when “the atom” was to be presented we might discern opportunities as well as limits of exhibitions.

Christian Sichau trained as a physicist and holds a PhD from the University of Oldenburg (Germany), focusing on the history of physics, in particular the replication of experiments. From 2003 to 2009 he was curator for physics, geophysics and geodesy at the Deutsches Museum in Munich. In this context he participated in many international discussions on how to collect and exhibit scientific instruments and apparatuses. Since 2009 he is responsible for the development of the exhibition of the „experimenta“ (, a new science center in Heilbronn (Germany).