The Inbox

Smithsonian expert offers tips how to make people appreciate museums

Dr. Nancy Knowlton at the National Museum of the Philippines

By Mikha Flores, VERA Files

Photos courtesy of the National Museum of the Philippines

In a country where majority of the people are more concerned with economic survival, how to interest them to visit museums is a challenge.

Dr. Nancy Knowlton, a marine scientist and a high-ranking executive at The Smithsonian, said in a lecture at the National Museum Wednesday that understanding the audience is the first step to make people appreciate the beauty of museums.

“I think the most important phase that we (should) try to establish…is who (is) our audience,” she said.

According to Knowlton, there are three kinds of people who visit museums: the “turn-me-on” or wow crowd, the “tell-me-more” people or information seekers, and the “how-can-I help” people or servers of the planet groups.

The challenge, Knowlton said, is to bring people from the wow factor to a deeper engagement with museum exhibits. She said the challenge is to let people care about floras and faunas once they appreciate nature through museums.

She said museum work has a lot of room for creativity citing as example the hyperbolic crochet coral reef project. Founded by the Institute for Figuring, the project mixes both art and science where participants create “coral reefs” through crocheting. Knowlton said the project helped the public understand the threats of global warming to coral reefs.

Dr.Knowlton during her presentationMuseums can also be engaging to the public through “online and onsite crowd curation” where the public can vote which photos or materials to use for a museum exhibit. Knowlton said crowd curation helps create a dialogue between the public and experts instead of just monologues on the part of museum curators and administrators.

Knowlton is currently the Sant Chair in Marine Science at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. She holds a PhD at the University of California at Berkeley and graduated summa cum laude at Harvard University for her Bachelor’s degree.

The Smithsonian, the largest museum and research complex in the world, consists of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities.

Dr. Arvin Diesmos of the Philippine National Museum shared insights about how Filipinos relate science and museums to their daily life. He said there still a long way to go to make the public appreciate science and its relevance to their life.

Knowlton said it’s the same in the United States. “You have to lure people into appreciating science by starting with topics …that appeal to them from the other aspects of their lives.”

Open discussionTo effectively connect with the people, she advised the scientists to avoid using scientific terms and instead speak the language they understand. and not dazzle them with scientific terms.

Maribel Garcia, curator of Mind Museum, shared their experience how they dealt with the language problem with their scientists. In the beginning, she said the scientists in her staff “were caged in jargon.”

She let them undergo theater training and now, they are able to explain interestingly science and how it impacts on people’s daily lives.

Garcia said they remind the audience that it’s not just about studying science. It’s also doing something about the destruction of our environment.

She said there is a need to stress to the public that that if we don’t do anything about environmental problems, our stories about the world we live in would be vastly different from the stories of the world our forefathers knew.

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for “true”.)

  • Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry
    Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    Heart-wrenching messages of fear, love and despair, sent by high school students from a sinking South Korean ferry, added extra emotional weight Thursday to a tragedy that has stunned the nation. Nearly 300 people -- most of them students on a high school trip to a holiday island -- are still missing after the ferry capsized and sank on Wednesday morning. Mom, I love you," student Shin Young-Jin said in a text to his mother that was widely circulated in the South Korean media. …

  • Philippine leader apologises over 'world's worst airport'
    Philippine leader apologises over 'world's worst airport'

    Philippine President Benigno Aquino publicly apologised on Wednesday for failures in air conditioning at Manila airport, already named by an online travel guide as the world's worst. The fresh debacle at Terminal 1, used by foreign airlines, came as millions of Filipinos begin travelling for the Easter holidays during one of the hottest months of the year. The transportation ministry also issued a separate public apology Wednesday, on the eve of four-day Easter holidays in the Catholic …

  • Philippines quarantines man over MERS fears
    Philippines quarantines man over MERS fears

    Philippine health authorities said Wednesday they have quarantined a Filipino who arrived from the Middle East because he tested positive for the deadly MERS virus. The man, who arrived in the Philippines on Tuesday, is not yet showing symptoms but has been isolated in hospital, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said. The Health Department is also quarantining the man's family and tracing the people who had contact with him during his flight to see if they may also be infected with the MERS or …

  • Centipede Bursts from Snake's Stomach
    Centipede Bursts from Snake's Stomach

    A group of researchers stumbled upon a grisly scene during a field study in Macedonia last year: a dead nose-horned viper with a centipede's head sticking out of its ruptured abdomen. "All of us were astonished, as nobody has ever seen something like this," Ljiljana Tomovi?, a herpetologist at the University of Belgrade, told Live Science in an email. The remnants of the death match were discovered when one researcher, Dragan Arsovski, turned over a stone, Tomovi? The unfortunate nose-horned …

  • PH, China, Malaysia negotiating hostages’ release

    The Philippines and China are now working with Malaysian authorities in negotiating with the kidnappers of the Chinese tourist and Filipina worker who were abducted from an island resort near Semporna in Sabah on April 2. Speaking at a press conference after the Putrajaya Forum 2014 in Kuala Lumpur where he delivered a speech on transnational and organized crime on Tuesday, Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi disclosed that Filipino authorities, in particular, are working …

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    AFP News - Thu, Apr 17, 2014
    Heartbreaking texts from students on sinking S. Korea ferry

    Heart-wrenching messages of fear, love and despair, sent by high school students from a sinking South Korean ferry, added extra emotional weight Thursday to a tragedy that has stunned the nation. Nearly 300 people -- most of them students on a high school trip to a holiday island -- are still missing after the ferry capsized and sank on Wednesday morning. Mom, I love you," student Shin Young-Jin said in a text to his mother that was widely circulated in the South Korean media. …

  • Centipede Bursts from Snake's Stomach

    Centipede Bursts from Snake's Stomach

    LiveScience.com - Thu, Apr 17, 2014
    Centipede Bursts from Snake's Stomach

    A group of researchers stumbled upon a grisly scene during a field study in Macedonia last year: a dead nose-horned viper with a centipede's head sticking out of its ruptured abdomen. "All of us were astonished, as nobody has ever seen something like this," Ljiljana Tomovi?, a herpetologist at the University of Belgrade, told Live Science in an email. The remnants of the death match were discovered when one researcher, Dragan Arsovski, turned over a stone, Tomovi? The unfortunate nose-horned …

  • Why Portland Reservoir Was Flushed After Teen Peed in It

    Why Portland Reservoir Was Flushed After Teen Peed in It

    LiveScience.com - 1 hour 40 minutes ago
    Why Portland Reservoir Was Flushed After Teen Peed in It

    Officials in Portland, Ore., are flushing 38 million gallons of public drinking water after a 19-year-old was caught on camera urinating into an open reservoir on Wednesday (April 16). As expected, the sample came back clean, Jaymee Cuti, a spokeswoman for the Portland Water Bureau, told Live Science. Officials acknowledged there was little public health risk from a small amount of urine in an open reservoir that is presumably exposed to the droppings of wild animals all the time. Bureau …

POLL
Loading...
Poll Choice Options