Science centres and museums


We experimentally examined how messaging strategies that prompted differences in how scientists are categorized as a group increased positive science attitudes among non-scientists. Results from the first study showed that messaging which personalizes science or highlights shared common identities with scientists diminishes outgroup effects through recategorization or decategorization, respectively. Study 2 largely replicated these results in an ecologically valid setting: a zoo. Collectively, these studies support the use of the recategorization strategy for improving trust and science attitudes, but produced less consistent effects for decategorization. The results emphasized the importance of contextualized messaging when creating effective appeals in science communication.


The 2022 Ecsite conference took place in Heilbronn, Germany, from 2–4 June after two years of virtual meetings due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This review presents some highlights of this event, including two memorable keynote talks by disability activist Sinéad Burke and author/educator Lucy Hawking.


Experiences of awe and wonder are vital to science and innovation. In this practice insight we explore how these emotions shape the culture of science communication. In doing so, we examine how exclusively nature- and place-based experiences for awe and wonder are often features of resource-limited settings. We then describe strategies for awe- and wonder-centred science communication beyond reliance on nature or the power of place by detailing a successful hybrid resourcing model in a rural Australian science centre. We finish by describing the role of science communicators in engaging potential collaborators to enable science communication in resource-limited settings.


The Polish science communication field has grown into a robust and diverse community. Centralised and governmentally funded initiatives are complemented by more bottom-up actions led by academia, researchers, journalists and educators. Still, the main goals of science communication in Poland seem to be a diffusion of scientific knowledge and building trust towards science and scientist. The concept of openness and reflexivity could help to include the needs and perspectives of non-scientific audiences into science communication practice in Poland.


Concepts underpinning participatory science communication have much to offer science communication training and capacity building. This paper investigates a capacity building program with 15 science communicators from nine African countries involved in a six-week program in Australia. Data was collected via surveys, observations, informal interactions and ongoing relationships tracking program outcomes. Key features with a participatory nature included: holistic programs giving participants diverse skills and entry points; ensuring participant's freedom, agency, autonomy and self-efficacy; real-world networking as a self-directed participatory process; participant-led design processes to build skills for creating programs; and, embedding training in real-world contexts with deliberately selected publics.


This essay approaches the question: ‘What does participatory science communication for transformation mean in Colombia?’ The answer comes from an examination of the public policy instruments that have promoted participatory scientific communication through the concept of social appropriation of science, technology, and innovation (STI). In the gaze of these public policy instruments, it is evident how the social appropriation of STI has been intended as a means of transformation.


The ‘Born or Built? — Our Robotic Future’ (‘BOB?’) exhibition examines relationships between humans, robots and artificial intelligence. It encourages visitors to explore ethical and social issues surrounding these new technologies and invites visitors to post their own questions. We examine visitor responses to the exhibit “A of the Day”, which encourages visitors to engage by writing down their own question prompted by their experience in ‘BOB?’. As responses were submitted, it became apparent that the questions posed by visitors were potentially a valuable contribution to future science communication policy about robotics, and to those designing and implementing these technologies. We performed a content analysis that distilled themes in visitors' open-ended questioning that conveyed visitor knowledge and insight into what science communication about robotic technologies needs to address. Taken this way, visitors' questions form a moment of dialogue between the public and science communicators, engineers and researchers in which visitors contribute their knowledge and ideas about robotics. Such moments of dialogue are potentially valuable if the public is to be included in the development of robotics technology to build trust in robotics technology.


This paper focuses on developing and assessing a non-obtrusive and transformative method, based on virtual reality, to evaluate science communication projects in science centres. The method was tested using deep-sea cutting-edge scientific content. We applied a mixed design, with 72 adult participants randomly assigned to experimental conditions (with/without exhibition exposure). Results showed that the exhibition promoted a better understanding of science. The non-obtrusive measures on awareness and engagement were positively related with questions posed via questionnaire and interview. The study adds theoretical and empirical support to the design and implementation of non-obtrusive and transformative evaluation experiences in science exhibitions in science centres and museums.


Genetics literacy is crucial for making informed decisions. However, perceived complexity, educational gaps, and misleading media narratives make reaching diverse populations difficult. Interventions to improve genetics literacy beyond K—12 classrooms should center on building science trust and self-efficacy. We used a mixed methods approach to survey 12 museums with genetics content and found 3 framing devices, “Genetics is Fun,” “Genetics is Relevant,” and “Genetics is Discovery.” While each framing strategy leads to high engagement with genetics topics, these approaches differed in ways that affect ability to learn and how genetics is perceived. Exhibit creators should consider design ramifications when creating a genetics exhibit that builds genetic literacy.


This paper studies how science centers and museums around the world have used mobile apps with museum guide characteristics and tries to identify the best interface design principles to improve their use as a tool for interaction with the public. For this purpose, we mapped mobile apps from science centers and museums and applied an evaluation tool for each one to identify good practices. This allowed us to produce guidelines for identifying good practices in the development of apps as a way of expanding visitors' experience in these institutions through these devices.


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