Monday, March 14, 2011

National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, timely example of the educational and civic value of museums

Those of us who work in and advocate for museums already know that visitors access museum exhibits and websites for valuable and reliable information on diverse topics. Here is a great example of a museum serving as a relevant educational institution, providing opportunities for informal exploration of a timely subject and offering a deeper understanding of complicated issues. In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Japan and the ongoing threat of a nuclear meltdown at several Japanese nuclear power plants, the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History in Albuquerque, New Mexico saw a three-fold increase in attendance over the weekend.

With the Republican-led Congress currently considering drastic cuts to federal funding for the arts, humanities, museums, libraries, and other stewards of our shared history and cultural heritage, perhaps we need more news stories highlighting the important role museums play in educating Americans about the world around them. Last week, members of Congress might have seen the Nuclear Museum as a small organization on a relatively narrow and seemingly esoteric subject, but this week we can show that it is a valuable resource to both its local community and the nation at-large.

This video from KRQE in Albuquerque describes the museum's surge in attendance, highlights a popular exhibit on types of nuclear power plants, and features reactions from first-time visitors.

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