The project “Visitor’s participation at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin” started in October 2016 with the aim to develop and evaluate new forms and methods of participation in research, collections and exhibitions.
The visitors gain insights into the work of the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin and are encouraged to share their knowledge, ideas and reflections on the museum objects and social topics related to the museum with other visitors.
At the beginning of the project, museum employees as well as visitors, students and participation experts developed ideas, topics and general requirements for participation in a workshop. Since September 2017, two new elements are situated in the exhibitions:
Three so-called opinion boxes ask our visitors about their points of view on different societal issues related to exhibition objects: Are we allowed to bring back extinct species like the thylacine? What about naming a species after Donald Trump? And how would a world without mosquitoes look like? The boxes encourage taking a deeper look and discussing these and other ethical questions regarding scientific work. All boxes are connected with research at the Museum für Naturkunde and the researchers show great interest in the visitor’s opinion.
The questions are also addressed in different workshops and events. In October, a wasp was named in a joined workshop with visitors and scientists. A panel discussion in October addressed the question on a mosquito free world.
Since November 2017, an audio station, the story tent, gives the opportunity to listen to stories from behind the scenes and to record a story about one’s own experience at the museum. The stories are later included in the audio station and can be listened to by other visitors.
The two-years- project “Visitor`s participation at the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin” is funded by the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU). Cooperation partners are the Design Research Lab (University of Arts Berlin) and the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin (HTW). Students of the Master program of the HTW are evaluating the new elements.