Ryan has sent us an update from jolly old England where he is currently doing his internship at the Natural History Museum. Check out what he has to say!
At the end of my day at the Natural History Museum, I join the mass of visitors being ushered out of the halls and galleries onto Exhibition Rd in London. In the past five weeks I’ve seen some children who really, really do not want to go; stomping angrily, and sometimes wailing for ‘just a few more minutes’ with the dinosaurs and meteorites and other wonders.
Thinking ahead to the end of my internship, I hope I behave more respectably when returning my ID to security – but I make no promises.
I work with the museum’s Interpretation team, ‘responsible for the creative and content development of permanent and special exhibitions and public spaces.’ They’ve been great in making me feel at home, including me in department and institution meetings and involving me in a variety of projects from the start. So far I’ve helped develop a display on the recent discovery of two new UK plants, conducted summative evaluations with visitors to Scott’s Last Expedition (try saying ‘expedition exhibition’ five times fast…), and contributed story and guest speaker ideas for a podcast series that will feature artefacts from a new permanent museum gallery. I will continue with this work in the coming weeks, and will start researching images on extinctions (cheery stuff), and developing text for a graphic redesign of the Darwin Centre.
The team has helped me make the most of my time in London, science communication-wise. They encouraged me to go to this year’s Museums & Heritage Show at Earl’s Court – a huge conference for the museum sector, with some interesting talks on exhibit design and new technologies – and have included me in their professional development seminars. As well, we discuss any museum/science centre exhibitions or events we’ve been to recently from an interpretation/visitor engagement perspective at weekly catch-up meetings.
In short, I am learning a lot, and applying a lot of what I learned in Science Communication. From evaluation techniques to learning theories to exhibit design to media to effective science storytelling, I find I’m using some theory, tip, or trick from one of our classes every day. It’s easy to feel a bit intimidated at an institution like this, but I feel the program has given me the tools needed to make meaningful contributions here.
It’s pretty easy to draw inspiration for communicating science walking past giant plesiosaurs and samples collected by Darwin on the way to your next meeting. But I’ll admit – nothing’s displayed with quite the same flair as Sudbury Arena’s wolf.
Looking forward to seeing everyone back in Sudbury, once I’ve been forcibly removed from the building.