Visiting museums on weekdays means getting to play with all the cool stuff normally monopolized by kids.
Twice this past July, members of the museum planning team took the train to Montréal to have a look at some of the excellent museums there. We are researching innovations and new approaches to museums practices as part of our re-invention of the Currency Museum and the first stop was the Montréal Science Centre (Centre des sciences de Montréal). We spoke at length with their very friendly and helpful exhibition team before being given a guided insider’s tour of one of their current exhibits- “Mission Gaia”. It may seem odd to imagine a central bank museum and a science centre having anything in common, but they both need to interpret difficult ideas and concepts much like we will. Their interpretation approach is to give visitors a task to complete so that they discover solutions themselves rather than being simply told the facts; good food for thought and wholly applicable to some of our needs.
As for ‘Mission Gaia’, it wasn’t so much an exhibit as a fascinating game where players manage a large city in the face of natural disaster. They then create sustainable development for that city and finally for the planet. Visitors sit at an engagingly designed tabletop touch screen, solving problems by making choices about resource use. The game then gives them indicators of social, economic and environmental costs; the point being to balance these costs by outlining a plan that will have the lowest impact on society and the environment. Visitors of all ages were very absorbed and we recommend dropping in for a visit the next time you are in Montréal. (Oh, yes, there’s a great café across the street with a wonderful crab salad.)