Infusing STEM and Culture with Museum of Science
This week, Museum of Science, Boston told us about the pivotal moments they’ve experienced after almost a full year of virtual programming and how they’re looking ahead to more events centering on science, technology and culture in our community.
To find upcoming events from Museum of Science and other local museums, visit the ArtsBoston Calendar.
Putting Technology to Use
As 2020 threw its challenges at museums, art institutions and their audiences, cultural workers truly rose to the challenge of creating meaningful and accessible virtual experiences to fill the space created by closures. For Boston’s Museum of Science and the team behind their SubSpace: Adult Experiences, it was clear right from the start that their content would be needed to help a community going through the grief and confusion of a global pandemic. James Monroe, Producer of Adult Programs, told us about how they went from hoping to preserve as many affected programs as possible at the start of the pandemic to organizing a new, full season drawing from their success with digital content (see the Winter/Spring SubSpace lineup here).
“It’s our responsibility to do it if we have the ability, so we can offfer intellectual conversation and fun during this time when all adults need it the most.”
When all in-person attendance was shut down, the museum’s staff were prepared to dive in to the digital space, and aided by the availability of on-site locations to film panels, interviews, and more, they kicked things off to a great start in May with a session on intelligence in nature with returning guest— actress, filmmaker, author, and model, Isabella Rossellini.
What’s more, Monroe, former Programming Manager at A.R.T’s OBERON venue and on the team at the MOS since 2016, used his creative producing experience and discovered that the transition to virtual content sparked opportunity. Online, the museum could share expertise on a wider scale, and the feeling of being a resource for an expanding viewership added momentum to the work.
With that sense of greater responsibility, the team knew that they could bring in experts to talk about pressing issues facing society right now, specifically with authors and scholars who focus on race, equity, and justice. This past October, the museum hosted a conversation with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, author of How to Be an Antiracist and Boston Artist-In Residence L’Merchie Frazier. Coming up next and already at capacity, is another conversation with Caste author Isabel Wilkerson.
Programming for the Current Moment
In addition to hosting events discussing equity and public health, the Museum of Science has a commitment to welcoming arts in scientific spaces, and this digital year has generated numerous successful projects. In a repeating series based on the in-person nightlife experience, local drag star Coleslaw goes on a hilarious science and technology journey as she interviews experts in topics like the science of attraction and space in Coleslaw’s Corner: Science in Drag.
Coleslaw’s Corner: Science in Drag
Also notable, the museum partnered with New-York based SYREN Modern Dance to virtually continue the development of a piece already in-process, hoping to premiere it in person at some point down the line. In this type of project, Monroe told us, the value was not only in showcasing how art is persevering through this time but also in the opportunity to document the creation of art during the pandemic.
The greater philosophy behind this programming lies in the sense that science is at the heart of the human experience. Monroe says, “We want everyone to see themselves represented in the programming, with different ways of thinking and perspectives present, and by focusing on underserved voices in science.”
“We’re always trying to create programs looking at science and STEM through the lens of cultural science, of art, these conversations can be relevant to every single adult, nationally and even globally.”
With Boston currently in Phase 3, Step 1 of reopening, the Museum of Science is open at 25% capacity, with in-person exhibits like The Science of Pixar and the new permanent display Arctic Adventure: Exploring with Technologies. And from the first few weeks of being open again, Monroe says that “it’s been good to see families engaging with exhibits and to hear kids laughing.” Although adult programming is after-hours and still virtual, spirits are lifting as families come in and enjoy what the museum has to offer. Moving into the near future, the museum has lots in store, like a virtual show from acclaimed local musician Dutch Rebelle, a night with Titi and Zakiya from the popular podcast Dope Labs, and ReRooted, a multimodal virtual production Presented by the HairStory Project.
With so many topics and themes represented, these virtual programs continue to offer moments for curiosity, education, and inspiration for all, and raise important questions about how STEM, art, and culture all have crucial roles to play in our experiences as living, breathing, feeling people.
kiss kiss, BANG BANG: The Dutch ReBelle Experience is scheduled for March 25.
Header photo: Museum of Science
Elena Morris (she/her/hers) is ArtsBoston’s Community Outreach and Marketing Manager. She is a dramaturg and arts administrator passionate about forward-thinking in the arts. Elena holds a BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University, focusing her studies on dramatic literature and movement.