On International Museum Day, remember some of MCT’s exhibitions and their connection with equality
On Monday, May 18, people all across the globe celebrate the International Museum Day. In Brazil, the date is celebrated within the National Museum Week, which has a different theme every year. In 2020, the theme is Museums for Equality: diversity and inclusion. At PUCRS, the MCT – PUCRS Science and Technology Museum’s scientific collections focus on biodiversity. That is why, today, it is important to address its important social mission in integrating teaching and research.
The Museum’s scientific collections, which have been developed from research carried out by the University’s professors and students, serve as subsidies for other research and result in exhibitions. For Prof. Dr. Dr. Carlos Alberto S. de Lucena, Director of MCT and coordinator of the Museum’s Scientific Collections, sharing the importance of these collections to visitors is one of its goals.
The content of the Museum’s scientific collections and exhibitions materializes in educational actions that reach out to different audiences: school community, university community, adults and the elderly. “In terms of technology and biodiversity, the main themes of our exhibitions, we focus on offering the public knowledge in an open and equal way. To this end, we maintain programs that serve low-income schools and institutions, providing access to a ‘world’ that can make a difference in the development of future citizens ” Lucena says.
Several MCT scientific collections have a connection with the National Museum Week. These institutions are areas for diversity and are unique in that they rely on faculty as well as undergraduate and graduate students. And they are also represented by their exhibitions. Below are some of such exhibits for you to understand how these issues can relate to science and technology.
Archeology studies the relationships between people and objects. By analyzing how they are used, it is possible to tell stories about the everyday lives of certain people and their times. It is a narrative about the past told in the present in order to build the future. In this thematic area, visitors can see items of the scientific collection of Archeology, as well as discover the representation of an archaeological excavation at Canhemborá (city of Nova Palma, in Rio Grande do Sul).
The exhibit will show its contemporary take on the evolution of organisms, focusing on the changes that have occurred throughout the evolutionary process which, from natural selection, facilitated the formation of such organisms. Designed from the scientific collections of the MCT and the Great North Museum: Hancock (GNM), in a project selected by the British Council Brazil with funding from the Newton Fund, Traits of Evolution focuses on the popularization of science, using preserved specimens to explain a fundamental issue in Biology: evolution.
To describe a new species, researchers need several resources to investigate which traits make it different from all the others. Photographs, high resolution images or illustrations can all be used for its description. The exhibition Scientific Illustration: art in the description of new species presents visitors with “works of art” that biologist Arno Lise produced during his career as curator of the scientific collections Arachnids and Miriapods. The goal is to make the Museum’s public recognize these species in the environment and know how to deal with them.
Starting from a complete Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) skeleton with around fifteen meters of length and 95% original bones, this exhibition graces its audience with an exceptional experience. The whale is found off the coast of Rio Grande do Sul. The arrangement, shape and size of the bones get visitors to wonder how the body of this huge cetacean works and what its habits are, as they compare it with other living creatures. Skeletons also show signs of millions of years of evolution. The skulls of a sea lion, a dolphin and a false killer whale, as well as bristles from a minke whale, are included in the collection. These items help visitors understand, in a playful way, the evolutionary process that led some mammals to adapt to life in the water and the importance of the preservation of the environment.
The chemical elements originating in the big bang or in later stellar collapses are the raw material of the universe. They are the ingredients that make up everything we know and can observe, including the human being. By interacting with the periodic table, visitors can find out about the chemical elements that are present in the human body. They also get to know samples of the Museum’s collection Minerals and Rocks and learn about their body as well as the importance of minerals and rocks for the planet life.
This exhibition has been designed, in partnership with PUCRS’ School of Health and Life Sciences. It introduces visitors to the environment of a criminal investigation, by presenting a crime scene – the theft of a bone from a dinosaur skeleton exhibited at the Museum. From this crime, the visitors’ observation and capacity of deduction is tested in areas such as ballistics, fingerprint analysis, computing and forensic biology. It also introduces them to the importance of insects in criminal investigation.
The area was created with the help of curators from the Museum’s scientific collection of Fish to introduce visitors to relevant aspects of the life and work of the English scientist Alfred Wallace. He lived for about four years in the Brazilian Amazon, developing research in several areas of science. The exhibition presents information about the scientist’s life in Brazilian lands, drawings of fish and plants made by Wallace himself and interactive games that involve native biodiversity. All these items show how important knowledge of this region is for the preservation of life.
Even in a period of social distancing, when PUCRS’ Science and Technology Museum cannot open its doors to visitors in person, the institute continues to share knowledge with the community. The MCT website presents a variety of actions and advisories on Covid-19 pandemic, including the role of science in fighting it.
International Museum Day was established by the International Council of Museums (Icom), an organ embraced by the United Nations (UN) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco). In Brazil, the Brazilian Museum Institute (Ibram) coordinates the museum policies of Brazil and promotes the National Museum Week with actions offered by Brazilian museums on a single theme, as proposed by Icom. In its 18th edition, the Week’s actions address Museums for Equality: diversity and inclusion.