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May 13, 2011 Article
Science as theatre: a New Zealand history of performances and exhibitions

by Peter Hodder

In colonial times in New Zealand the portrayal of science to the public had a sense of theatre, with nineteenth and early twentieth century grand exhibitions of a new nation’s resources and its technological achievements complemented by spectacular public lectures and demonstrations by visitors from overseas and scientific ‘showmen’. However, from 1926 to the mid-1990s there were few public displays of scientific research and its applications, corresponding to an inward-looking science regime presided over by the Government science agency, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The subsequent development of science centres with their emphasis on visitor participation has led to an increase in the audience for science and a revival of theatricality in presentation of exhibitions, demonstration lectures, café scientifiques, and science-related activities.

Volume 10 • Issue 02 • 2011