Technical Leaflet 270: Integrating Science at a History Museum
Integrating Science at a History Museum is an AASLH Technical Leaflet. AASLH Technical Leaflets are brief, practical guides on how to do history. Technical Leaflet #270 by Catherine Hughes, Brian Mancuso, and Allison Cosbey tackles the development of an exhibition that combines science museum activities with historical stories, objects, and settings, offering history museums a possible road map to effectively introduce science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) into their institutions. For the past decade, Conner Prairie, in Fishers, Indiana, has created experiences that help visitors learn about science in historic environments. Across our grounds, visitors can experience historical activities that demonstrate science concepts, like churning butter or shaping iron in a forge. Expanding this idea beyond our historic areas, Conner Prairie staff sought to create an exhibition that featured not just the history of science, but the active processes of the scientific method embedded in historic stories. We partnered with the Science Museum of Minnesota and received funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the National Science Foundation to create a new kind of exhibition built on best practices from history and science museums.