On Saturday was my fourth visit at the New York Hall of Science in Queens since I started ITP. Therefore, I had a very different feeling coming to a museum I already know and do the trip report, it made me raise questions that I did not ask myself on the previous visit (at list not consciously) different about this trip in comparison to the two other museums I saw last week which I went for the first time.
NYsci is unique and if I were to describe it in one word it would be discovery. What distinguishes it from most museums is the fact that it is a very hands-on museum and put itself to engage the sense of touch as a goal. There is a lot of emphasis on interactive pieces.
The main feeling I had, while wondering in the museum, was that it is a multi visitors experience. We were sharing our latest discoveries and each one was attracted to other exhibits and share her new knowledge about it. Going through the shows with other people initiate conversations regarding the works that were there.
In some exhibits, the need of more than one person was even more extrovert, since they required multi people participation in order to be experienced. For example, in the room with the forced perspective, at least one person had to stand inside the room while the other one peeks through the peep hall.
From example, what was mesmerizing from the inside – three mirrors that were aligned in a triangular shape in order enabled the spectators to see themselves from any possible angle, angels that they never saw before. However, from its outside, it does not seem so appealing. Without Michele pointing it out I would pass by it and would never notice it exists.
Another similar example for a hidden piece was the circular wooden rail that contains small pictures of places. Only after observing Angela, I noticed there are tiny peek holes that were scattered around the wooden railing. This experience enhanced the acquiring knowledge atmosphere that surrounded this visit.
Some of the exhibits felt like magic. One that had a huge surprise impact on me was the spring which was created using pepper’s ghost effect but looked extremely tangible. The instructions on the caption helped to keep the element of surprise.
While I was interacting or observing some of the exhibits I felt like my body is filled with curiosity of a child. However, some of it was in a very poor condition. The first show demonstrated a lot of old works that were not well maintained. Some exhibitions included broken or unfunctional works and others were extremely dirty.
In my opinion, one of the museum’s strengths is that it is designed in a way that one will have to revisit it. Every visit I discovered something new that I was not aware of before, every time it was a discovery experience. However, I also think this is one of the weaknesses of the museum since some of the works are getting lost in the museum’s abundance.
In addition to the variety of projects, the NYsci included the most diverse spectrum of ages and origins I have seen so far in a museum, despite the fact it is designed mainly for kids — most works were assembled in a child’s point of view including the height of sitting spots.
The museum looks a little patchy as if new pieces were added to it without replacing the old ones. It was very inconsistent, especially its captions. Some captions were short and sweet such as the Soup Film Painting one that was one of the most appealing installations in the museum as right at the entrance – the bubbles. The enthusiasm it evoked in adults and not only in kids was fascinating.
On the contrary, the caption that was describing the Light and Shadow piece was very successful. When approaching the work the first thing you see is the projection on the wall what draws you into the inner space the museum built to present it. Because I did not understand what scientific phenomenon this work was trying to convey I looked for the caption that was very hard to find and even after reading the caption I did not fully understand what it was trying to convey.
The museum was a conglomerate of objects without a very clear and organized thought behind it. Even the restrooms had a scientific input into it, it reminded me of the optical illusion of the horizontal lines that do not look parallel even though they are.
The audience of the Play Ground was kids and tired parents who are seeking to get some rest.
Since this museum is built for more that one-time visit I would change the why it is constructed now and create different knowledge roots that the visitors can choose from (similar to the different tours that the Met is offering to its guests). The different routes will enable one to explore all the museum has to offer in a more cohesive way.
Categories: Cabinets of Wonder