THE MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY IN CHICAGO AND ITS INFLUENCE ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF AMERICA'S SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY MUSEUMS (Muzeum nauki i przemyslu w Chicago i jego wplyw na rozwój muzeów techniczno-naukowych w Ameryce)
The first science museums originated in Europe with the oldest one - the 'Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers' - being established during the French Revolution in 1794 in Paris. In England, the 'South Kensington Museum' opened in 1857 and was the predecessor of the 'English Science Museum' built in 1909. However, the most influential European science museum was the 'Deutsches Museum', opened in 1906, which featured highly interactive expositions. The first American science museums started to appear in the 1930's. These included the 'New York Museum of Science and Industry' (1930), the 'Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago' (MSI) (1933) and the 'Franklin Institute Science Museum and Planetarium' (1934). MSI has become the most successful of the early museums. Julius Rosenwald started the initiative based off inspiration he gained from visiting the 'Deutsches Museum'. However, it was no until a few years later that the initiatives of the new director, Lennox Lohr, brought new life to the museum. He made MSI successful and competitive by stressing contemporary science over historical objects, establishing more interactive expositions and forming a strong relationship with industrial companies. Under Lohr's 28 years of leadership, the museum added numerous new exhibitions. Today it presents over two thousand exhibits and more than ten thousand scientific, technological and industrial artefacts. With a yearly attendance of over two million visitors, the MSI is the United States' seventh most popular museum. The 1960's brought forth the dawn of science centers. They were different from traditional science museums as they did not focus on collecting scientific artefacts. Instead, they concentrated on interactive and educational exhibits. The forerunner of science centers was the 'Palais de la Découverte', opened in 1937 in Paris. However, the idea did not gain worldwide popularity until twenty years later. In 1974 the International Council of Museums (ICOM), and in 1975 the American Association of Museums (AAM), adopted a new definition for a museum, which included. In the last three decades, many American science, industrial, natural history and children's museums have been converted to science centers. According to the American Association of Museums, science museums are three times more visited than art museums. Traditional museums, filled with artefacts and 'Do Not Touch' signs are much less appealing to youth than interactive exhibits with models, replicas, simulators and audio-visual experiments where you can learn and play. In order for traditional science museums to compete with the new trends established by science centers, they have to adopt new techniques as well.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.