Musing on museums and minivideos

Many people browse thoughtfully through science museums, getting the most from their visits. But many of us charge through the galleries: Where are the robots, the lunar landing modules, the T. rexes? Give us the onscreen games, the actual famous artifacts, the quick education sessions with actual entertaining teachers! Often the biggest casualties of our flybys are the short videos that are now so commonly sprinkled along the way. Of course these videos can offer powerful glimpses of researchers and their research, and the technologies to make and display videos have become cheap, powerful and ubiquitous. But many of us skip them along with anything else that might make us give up a little control of our schedules, as I’ve seen recently at two favorite museums, the London Science Museum and the MIT Museum. Perhaps more of us would stop for 30-second videos labeled as such that ended with an option to go ahead with a fuller treatment (yes, up to several minutes!).