Science Museums in La Corunna (Spain)

What Birmingham’s Thinktank learnt from Science Museums in la Corunna:

Report prepared by Zeeshaan Dinally, Planetarium Presenter at Thinktank

The Science Museums of Corunna (=mc2) are an institution developed by Corunna City council. The goal of the three science museums is to “popularize science to everyone”, including local citizens, by means of making links to science in the local culture. There are many resources available to visitors, whom upon entering any of the science centres, are immersed in a multitude of different exhibits (both permanent and temporary). In helping visitors understand the world we live in, continuous effort is made to include ‘science in the news’. This ethos and philosophy appears to be shared rather equally across the three centres: House of Sciences, Domus and Aquarium Finisterrae.

A dichotomy can be seen from the outset of all three science centres, as not only are the exhibits similar to ‘interactive science centres’ (such as Thinktank Museum), but there is a large variety of activity based exhibits, i.e. exhibits where individuals and families play and work together to learn and study the science behind the exhibit.

There is a diverse programme on offer to anyone attending the science centres; from conferences, specialist and general courses, personalised planetarium shows, workshops on weekends for children, and science camps over the summer. There is also a specialised programme for schools attending the science centres, with discounts for schools with local children going free! It is no surprise that so many families visit these institutions, taking with them a sense of pride as they encourage relatives, friends and family to come along.

The delivery of science communication is very informal. The leaders of the institutions feel very strongly towards, ‘stepping away’ from classic lessons. This is achieved by contests for schools, asking children to ask their own questions and then exploring the answers and finally promoting science in the news, to demonstrate that science can be liberating.

“The most important [thing] at the House of Sciences are not the answers, but asking questions”. Despite the House of Sciences being small, it boasts 15 very exciting exhibits, ranging from historical trails of Darwin’s adventures to ‘old-school hands-on’ everyday science. Mostly families are seen in the museum, as they work together analyzing the science both within the exhibit, whilst making links to the news and culture themselves. The Digital Planetarium has to be the most emblematic element to the museum. Here you gaze in awe at some of the most breathtaking stars you’ll ever see! The planetarium has the luxury of running a digital system alongside the analogue one, which was funded by the investment bank Caixanova.

“Know yourself as an individual and as a species”. The aim of Domus or “House of Man” is to awaken curiosity and cause reflection on our species. One of the most innovative exhibits, is where you need to relax as much as possible (here you brain activity is measured). The most relaxed person wins! In Domus you constantly explore you own body; from watching your pupils react to light to testing your visual, olfactory and hearing senses. One of the museum’s feature exhibition features the 3D projection hall, which in essence plays a variety of entertaining and factual programs/films for public and schools.

“Dive in the Atlantic, see the Ocean as Nemo would do, fall in love with the Galician coast”.

Aquarium Finisterrae centre of science and technology. Everyday, millions of litres of sea water is filtered and sent straight into the museum to providing you with an exceptional experience. This museum pushes local and cultural links to its visitor, by showing everyone that the ocean is not a separate world to ours. The 300 or fish and plant life, are all local and can be studies and marvelled close-up in this museum. The location of this museum is more purposeful as you can overlook the Galician coast from the museums’ restaurant eating sustainable Galician fish! School children are encouraged to spend the night with the fishes in any part of the museum. Most however, enjoy sleeping under the sharks, inside the Nautilus exhibit, which is submerged in 4.4 million litres of sea water.

Thinktank Planetarium constantly explores different varieties of Fulldome content; the next step for me is to bring Fulldome photography into our programmes. Within Thinktank’s galleries; it would nice to see if we could include some ‘hands on’ traditional exhibits, considering Birmingham’s industrial history, it would not look out of place I think.

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