FROM “TOUCH THE UNIVERSE” TO “SCIENCE GALLERY”
The Manitoba Museum’s Science Gallery originally opened as the “Touch the Universe” Gallery in 1986. The gallery was based on an emerging “science center” model, which emphasized touchable and interactive exhibits over artifacts in glass cases (a model that is now seen in all types of museums). The Gallery’s theme was centered on the five senses we use to explore the Universe: vision, hearing, smell, taste, and feel. Touch the Universe was a great success, covering areas of physical science not encompassed by the main Museum Galleries or the Planetarium, and quickly became a favorite for younger visitors and anyone who preferred to experience the world in a hands-on way.
Over the following decades, the wear-and-tear of interactivity took its tool. Many exhibits wore out or broke down after tens of thousands of visitors had pressed, poked and prodded them. Other exhibits simply became outdated. By the mid-nineties, a major refurbishment was due to keep the Gallery at the high standards Museum visitors expected.
In the mid-2000s, several new exhibits began to appear in the Science Gallery. A traveling exhibit on Bears was followed by an in-house temporary exhibit on the planet Mars in 2003. “CSI: Manitoba Museum” allowed visitors to explore forensic science through the eyes of the Crime Scene Investigator, searching for clues and performing tests to solve a murder. Next came the permanent exhibit “Space Rocks: Meteorites of Manitoba”, which featured some of the Museum’s collection of meteorites including a touchable specimen. “The Numbers Game” was an exhibit on mathematics sponsored by a generous gift from Investors Group. Then in 2006, the Province of Manitoba funded a large-scale refurbishment of the Science Gallery, which replaced most of the older exhibits with several new areas.
The Science Gallery is undergoing continued development, with new exhibits being added as time and resources allow. (Check out the Science Gallery blog for sneak peeks of exhibits in development, and to send us your ideas for future Gallery improvements!)