on May 16th, 2022

In honor of International Museum Day, why not celebrate the museums that give visitors unrivaled access to everything we love about engineering?

International Museum Day takes place on 18 May, and if you live in a city or town with a museum, why not find out if your local museum is running a promotion to give free entry on the day or presenting a talk about an exhibition?

The day was started in 1977 by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) to draw attention to the impact of museums on individual and broader communities, and also the value they have socially and economically.

According to ICOM the 2022 theme will be The Power of Museums.

For the organization, museums can transform the world around us by being places of discovery and teaching.

The day hopes to achieve three key goals this year:

  • Achieving sustainability: Museums are strategic partners for the UN and exhibitions can contribute to global sustainability goals through different mediums. Most importantly museums can be places of scientific information.
  • More digitalization and accessibility: Museums are innovative playing grounds that use new technologies to make exhibitions exciting. But it also makes digital innovation accessible and engaging, helping audiences understand complex and nuanced concepts easier and with much less work.
  • Community building through education: Museum collections and programmes build communities, and even have the ability to introduce visitors to different communities. They are places that provide opportunities for lifelong learning and contribute to shaping an informed and engaged civil society.

Here are some amazing museums for engineers to visit on Museum Day. Many of which offer online access for visitors from other countries.

The main hall at the Natural History Museum. Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Natural History Museum, London (England)

Considered the world’s leading science research Centre the Natural History Museum is also the most-visited natural history museum in Europe.

When entering the museum, you’ll be transported into different natural worlds thanks to the escalator that carries you up to the start of the exhibitions. While massive dinosaur replicas, the scientific collections with over 80 million specimens and the buzz all make it worth it, the museum is also rooted in engineering and the advancement of technology.

One of the latest additions at NHM is the Museum's new, free Women in Science tour.

The tour relates the experiences women had in science, and also their work. Because the tour gives new light to women specifically, it offers visitors a perspective on the challenges these scientists faced including sexism and underfunding – yet were able to deliver groundbreaking work.

For more information and online exhibitions click here.

Museum of Engineering Innovation

This museum, a wholly online experience, is open at all hours and to anyone. Presented on Google Arts and Culture the museum offers in-depth experiences curated by This Is Engineering and The Royal Academy of Engineering.

The exhibition is tailor-made for the pandemic era when more people were able to accept digital museum visits. The museum features exhibits from all over the United Kingdom and is accessible via the museum QR Code.

Exhibits include Arcadia (right) a mechanical stage built for the Glastonbury Music Festival.

There’s an opportunity to see sometimes unsung exhibitions, and also the kind of exhibitions valuable for university students to better understand work they might cover while completing their qualifications.

For more information on the museum click here.

Photo by Joe Green on Unsplash

Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town (South Africa)

The grain silos at Cape Town’s waterfront were once the tallest structure in Africa.

In 2017 it reopened as something completely different from its industrial past – one of the world’s premier contemporary art museums.

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art was reconfigured by UK-based Heatherwick Studio and redeveloped into a space for African art to find a home (and draw millions of international visitors). While the museum itself doesn’t contain exhibitions tied to science and engineering – its structure does.

It speaks to the sustainable future of keen engineering and architecture and also how important it is for engineers to appreciate their part in a cultural role to create structures that last and leaves spacial histories.

For more information on the museum click here.

Canada Museum of Space and Technology, Ottawa

Ingenium oversees three national museums of science and innovation in Ottawa.

The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum, the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, and the Canada Science and Technology Museum.

The Ingenium Centre houses an exceptional collection, research institute, and digital innovation lab.

What makes the museums unique is the use of digital content, outreach programs, traveling exhibitions, and collaborative spaces that help to educate, entertain, and engage audiences not only in Canada but also the world.

The museum gets high marks for its mission to create science literacy and serve as an inspiration for STEM.

See some of the exciting exhibitions within the museums here.

The Canada Aviation and Space Museum. Photo by Marc-Olivier Jodoin on Unsplash
Photo by Max Harlynking on Unsplash

Museum of Illusions (worldwide)

A franchised museum? Yes, the Museum of Illusions is one of the anomalies – having a number of branches scattered over the world.

But before you think that denounces the validity of the museum group – it does offer access to more people by not being geographically specific.

The museum shows how science and technology can create images – and also gives a new perspective on how lights, mirrors and spaces can be used for effect.

The museum started as a project that became one of the fastest-growing education and entertainment spaces, with locations in more than 30 cities.

Most of all it is a museum for all ages that is interactive as well as fun.

Find out if there is a Museum of Illusions close to you by clicking here.

Orlando Science Center, Florida (United States of America)

At the Orlando Science Center budding engineers and old hands can play to their hearts' content.

This American museum is packed with STEM-oriented experiences and exhibitions, and highlights include the ability to build and test your own rollercoaster!

According to the museum the exhibitions speak on how much minds can accomplish, and why engineering is so important to deliver the end result.

With four floors of interactive exhibit halls, labs and workshops, theatres, an observatory, and experiences that change seasonally, there is always something exciting to see here. 

It is a place to get carried away if you’re an engineer.

For more information click here.

Photo by Brian McGowan on Unsplash
Photo by Pawan Kawan on Unsplash

Australian Museum, Sydney

If you like dinosaurs and Lego this is the place to be right now in Oz. One of the new exhibitions at the museum (just in time for International Museum Day) is Jurassic World by Brickman. Running from Thursday 17 March to Friday 27 May 2022, this series features masterclasses and intimate meet-and-greets with the master himself, Ryan ‘The Brickman’ McNaught, as well as after-hours brick-building events designed to challenge creative skills and teach new techniques for building with Lego bricks. If that’s not enough the museum is a testament to Australian preservation and a safe place for heritage, culture, technology and science.

Currently, the museum has the vision to transform the conversation around climate change, the environment and wildlife conservation. With that, the museum aims to develop world-leading science, collections, exhibitions and education programs.

For more information on how and when to visit the museum click here.

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (Turkey)

The awe of the Hagia Sophia is sometimes understated when compared to other museums because here it’s not what is inside the building that is the star, but the building itself.

This ancient cathedral turned church, turned Mosque, and now the museum has lived many lives. The four tenets of the Hagia Sophia are some of the best modern-day examples of ancient engineering in practice. These kinds of domes were created by building them in layers. To reduce the load and stresses, higher layers of the dome were made with concrete mixed with lighter stones. As a result, the bottom of the dome is much thicker than the top.

The museum now faces infrastructure aging and it requires ongoing maintenance to ensure the structure stays erect, again engineers are used to bringing technology and skills to the table to preserve this historic landmark.

For more information click here.

Photo by A B on Unsplash

Shanghai Science and Technology Museum (China)

Considered one of the biggest museums of its kind this Chinese museum is a deft space to explore the sciences and engineering.
The museum is rated one of the best in China and consistently tops the list in terms of visitors and exhibitions. It features 11 permanent exhibition halls which cover biological Vientiane, crustal exploration, design, the light of wisdom, earth, the information age, robots, exploration, health and space.

There is a hall dedicated for children to explore and engage with science as well as special exhibitions focused on Animalia. Other parts of the museum cover ancient Chinese science and technology as well as academia. Guests have access to movie theatres showing science-related short films and there are temporary exhibitions covering a range of fascinating topics. This administrative and cultural centre of Shanghai covers an area of 68,000 square meters, with a construction area of 100,600 square meters.
For more information on this scientific wonderland click here.

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