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December 19, 2008


Paul Orselli

It seems that in many ways, science museums/science centers are losing the strength of their "niche."

Two cases in point: Early Childhood Galleries and IMAX theaters.

Both of these "features" often seem to dilute the power of the science museum "brand."

IMAX and Early Childhood Galleries are no longer unique in the marketplace. IMAX and 3D films can be seen in other venues beside museums, and children's museums (and many pay-for-play spaces) are often much better at creating experiences for young kids than science museums.

In addition, when what you're offering isn't really science (Harry Potter or Rolling Stones IMAX anyone?) or beside the point (if it's not even a science-themed early childhood space, inside of a science museum, why bother?) visitors might wonder why they should spend their time and money with their local "science" museum in the first place.

Rather than doing a mediocre job of trying to please everyone, why don't science museums try doing an EXCELLENT job of pleasing the core audience of science/technology enthusiasts? MAKE Magazine, and its website, Makers Faires, and now PBS TV Show seem to be doing quite well exploiting that niche and making it "cool" even for teens and 20 somethings.

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