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Renewal: hurdles to take

When renewing or redeveloping a science centre or science museum, different challenges present themselves. Which hurdles did the speakers and the participants encounter? Which tactics were used (or will be used) to overcome them? What worked and what failed? Are there things that in retrospect should have been approached in a different way?

Each presenter will briefly share their own experience, followed by roundtable discussions in smaller groups, moderated by the speakers and convenor. In these roundtable discussions participants can share their expertise and ask their peers questions. At the end of the session each group will list their advice and recommendations.


Patricia Verheyden
Curator of interactive experiences
Geneva 23

Session speakers

Deputy director
We often say that a renewal is a really nice team project. Really ? How can we not add a small project to the list of projects, but create a real implementation project? How can we integrate the desires of the team as well as those of the visitors ? How to present the project to our funders? Tips and tricks to deal with those issues will be discussed.
What to do when 3 weeks before closing your museum for renewal… your plans are put on hold. Imagine a whole organization - eager to finally focus on the renewal of the presentations and the refurbishment of their museum - suddenly has to go back to ‘business as usual’. The Utrecht University Museum will share their experiences on how to overcome unexpected hurdles: political, financial, motivational etc
photo of Stacy Wakeford
Director, Content
Canadian Museum of Nature
The Canadian Museum of Nature underwent extensive architectural renovations and completely redesigned its permanent galleries in 2010. Nearly 10 years later, visitor expectations and interests have evolved and there are sound reasons to renew the gallery content, whereas according to the staff and administration, everything is still “new”. Using the Water Gallery as a case study, we explore tactics used to address the hurdle of “institutional inertia”.
Science Popularisation Collaborative
Setting up a new science centre is a complex task. Managing it, keeping it running and keeping it fresh is even more challenging. After sometime a science centre can start looking like a dinosaur ; so time to renew ! This presentation will provide multiple answers to questions such as : What are the goals for the renewal? How to renew without bothering the visitor or do you close down ? Do you only renew the exhibition or part of the building as well? Is it just the renewal or do you plan an expansion ? How to involve the community in the renewal? Or putting it in another way : how do you renew your science centre successfully ?
architect / designer
The idea to restructure the entire Copernicus exhibition space appeared unexpectedly – only less than three years after its first opening! The whole team was proud of what we had achieved – great success, huge public. So, the first hurdle to reach, was to convince the team it was right time to start planning renovation of permanent exhibition. Other barriers appeared at each stage and on each level of the process. In my presentation I will focus on difficulties we encountered on conceptual stage. Nevertheless, the general overview of execution stage, administrative procedures and legal aspects of the process will not be overlooked.