Conveying conflicting scientific topics in exhibitions

Development and optimisation of an exhibition prototype and a museum-related wiki


DFG knowledge transfer

Project management:

Prof. Dr. Doris Lewalter (Technical University of Munich); Prof. Dr. Stephan Schwan (Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien, IWM)


Deutsches Museum München, Institute for Museum research Berlin


Siëlle Phelan (TU München), Magdalena Novak (IWM)

Project description:

The aim of this knowledge transfer project is to draw on empirical evidence to design and implement a prototypical exhibition space in the Deutsches Museum, where museum visitors can encounter conflicting information on a current science topic. In addition, we will be developing an evidence-based, practice-oriented wiki on the subject of presenting conflicting information in museums and exhibitions. The empirical evidence for this prototype will be based on four pillars: First, on psychologically oriented visitor studies and research on cognitive processing of conflicting information. Secondly, we will draw on empirical findings of our own prior research projects (funded by the DFG as part of the special priority programme science and the public) as well as on other museum-related research projects. Thirdly, a needs assessment in the form of surveys addressed at curators and exhibit designers on the one hand and a visitor survey on the other will help determine the needs, expectations and current practice of presenting conflicting science topics in the museum. Finally, we will draw on a series of empirical studies involving mock-ups and other design models to analyse and compare various parameters of museum-specific presentation of conflicting information and their motivational and cognitive effects on visitors. In close collaboration with the Leibniz Institut für Wissensmedien, the Deutsches Museum and the Institute for Museum Research these four pillars should lead to the development and implementation of an exhibition space on the subject of animal production as part of a permanent exhibition on agriculture and nutrition (opening in 2020). The final stages of the research project involve a summative evaluation of the finished exhibition and sharing our findings, insights, materials and more in a wiki for and with museum professionals.