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date: 11 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter outlines museums’ historical and contemporary approaches to science communication, detailing how they have used exhibits and public programming to balance their twinned missions of scientific research and public education. It describes the history of these institutions, and the various forms—natural history museum, science museum, and science center—they assumed in the twentieth century. It explains how and why approaches to exhibition changed, discussing the rise of hands-on, interactive, and immersive displays, and museums’ shifting attitudes toward the visitors in their halls. It also reviews longstanding and current challenges museums face as they strive to communicate with diverse audiences about scientific process, practice, and discoveries.

Keywords: natural history, museum, science museum, science center, exhibits, interactivity, science communication

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