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Issue 24, March 2012
bulletResearch Museums - An Interactive Experience
bulletThoughts on the Purpose and Role of Research Museums
bulletInnovation of the Month: Das Haus - Traveling Exhibition
bulletInterview: Prof. Albrecht Beutelspacher, Director of the Mathematikum
bulletThe Centre for New Technologies and the Open Research Laboratory in the Deutsches Museum
bulletNew Ways of Science Communication: Max Planck Science Gallery

article1Research Museums - An Interactive Experience 
A recent study on museum attendance in Germany showed that German museums received a record number of visitors − over 109 million in 2010, representing an 2.2% increase from 2009.

With 6,380 established institutions and a rising number of virtual online museums, Germany's vast museum landscape provides countless interactive experiences in art, science and many other areas. Within the framework of the German Science Year 2012 "Project Earth: Our Future," the museum ship MS Wissenschaft (MS Science), will bring an exhibition on sustainability to more than 30 cities in Germany and Austria. On this side of the Atlantic, Das Haus, a pavilion that showcases efficient building standards from Germany, is currently touring 12 cities in the U.S. and Canada. In conjunction with the tour, there will be symposia, panel discussions and workshops with experts. Read this month's innovation section to learn more.

This edition of E-NNOVATION GERMANY also includes a contribution of the Vice President of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation), one of the world's leading cultural organizations. In his piece, Prof. Dr. Günther Schauerte shares his thoughts on the purpose and role of research museums.

Prof. Dr. Günther Schauerte
article2Thoughts on the Purpose and Role of Research Museums
By Prof. Dr. Günther Schauerte, Vice President of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz

Germany has a multifaceted museum landscape of 6,380 museums mostly run by municipalities or independent organizations. A small but significant group of approx. 200 museums is directly governed by federal states or the federal government and forms the "backbone" of collection-oriented basic research in Germany. For 180 years, these museums (beyond universities and non-university research institutions) have constituted a third pillar of scholarly research on material culture in various scientific fields − for instance, the 16 Staatliche Museen Berlin based on a royal decree of 1841, which explicitly established the freedom of research.

Such Museums pursue two research approaches − they conduct "primary research, directly contributing to an increase of knowledge through direct scientific analysis of resources preserved at the museums" and they also "compile" research on specific topics. Many of the natural science museums' collections, for example, facilitate taxonomy-oriented research, which most universities are not pursuing anymore.

One result of collection-oriented research was recently on display at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in the exhibition "Faces of the Renaissance," which was based on joint research with the Gemaeldegalerie SMB in Berlin and had previously been shown very successfully in Berlin. Another example was the "Babylon" exhibition at the Louvre in Paris, Berlin's Pergamon Museum and the British Museum in London, which in Berlin alone in merely 3 months familiarized approx. 560,000 excited visitors with 100 years of excavations and research in Mesopotamia.

Unlike other research forms, research museums, through the transfer of knowledge, very effectively pass on their scientific insights both to the public and the political sphere and are thus generating a wide appreciation for research concerns and requirements.

Das Haus
article3Innovation of the Month: Das Haus - Traveling Exhibition

Das Haus is an exhibition that connects industry professionals in North America with the latest market-ready renewable and energy efficiency solutions from Germany. The project, supported by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and presented by the German Chamber Network, began in October 2011 in Atlanta, GA, and will continue its 12-city tour across the U.S. and Canada until October 2012. The centerpiece of the exhibition is an integrated, multi-faceted pavilion structure that demonstrates real-world technologies and solutions for meeting ultra-low energy building standards. This structure incorporates design concepts from two German solar homes that took first place in the 2007 and 2009 Solar Decathlon competition. In conjunction with guided tours of the Das Haus pavilion, the program of the 10-day exhibition in each city features a series of events, including symposia, seminars and discussions with experts on innovative building design and construction, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Attendees represent leading organizations and businesses in building materials, architecture, engineering, renewable energy and energy efficiency businesses, universities, and government. There is no cost associated with attending the Das Haus pavilion or events. Visit www.dashaustour.com for tour locations, dates, event schedules, and videos. 

article4Interview: Prof. Dr. Albrecht Beutelspacher, Director of the Mathematikum

Prof. Albrecht Beutelspacher, Professor for Discrete Mathematics and Geometry at Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, created the Mathematikum, the world's first mathematical science center, in 2002. The idea for the Mathematikum was conceived during a geometric models seminar in 1993, where Prof. Beutelspacher's students constructed and described mathematical models. Since its foundation in 2002, more than 17,000 school classes and 150,000 annual visitors have come to explore and decipher the museum's 150 hands-on exhibits that include stunning puzzles, giant soap bubbles, deceiving mirrors, and mysterious bridges. Located in Giessen, Germany, the Mathematikum provides a variety of programs that fascinate young and old, such as number stories, mathematical mini shows, lectures for children and adults, a math academy, concerts, and art shows. In addition to his regular lecture series at the Mathematikum, Prof. Beutelspacher is going to deliver ten special lectures as part of the institution's tenth anniversary celebration. Each of the lectures will focus on a number between one and ten. Prof. Beutelspacher has received numerous awards and honors, including the Communicator Award, which was conferred by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in 2000. It is bestowed upon researchers who have communicated their scientific findings to the public with exceptional success, and Prof. Beutelspacher was the first recipient of this prestigious award. To read the interview, click here.

Open Research Laboratory
article5The Centre for New Technologies and the
Open Research Laboratory in the Deutsches Museum
Source: Deutsches Museum

The Centre for New Technologies (CNT) at Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany, presents not only recent scientific results, but also the actual research process − researchers working in their labs. The exhibition, which was recently selected as one of the 365 landmarks in the "Germany - Land of Ideas" competition, portrays original apparatus used in current research, such as scanning probe microscopes that make the topography of the nanocosmos visible, or sequencers that decipher genetic information stored at a molecular level. The laboratories and the event area bring actual research practice and the researchers themselves into the museum. In the open research laboratory, nanoscientists work with scanning probe microscopes, separated from the public only by a glass counter. Visitors can experience how nanostructures too small to be seen by the naked eye − a thousand times thinner than a human hair − are made visible, and often a convincing picture emerges from the flood of images. Lively discussions frequently take place between visitors and postgraduate students. The researchers talk about science in general; they explain how research functions, and convey to people what the everyday routine in the lab is like. There are regular demonstrations in which visitors have the opportunity to become familiar with some of the fascinating effects of the nanoworld. For more information, click here.

Max Planck Science Gallery
article6New Ways of Science Communication: Max Planck Science Gallery
Text provided by: Max Planck Science Gallery

Right in the heart of Berlin, a new project of modern science communication has come to life: A digital, multimedia and highly interactive space showcasing cutting-edge research to the public. The Max-Planck-Gesellschaft, Germany's powerhouse in basic research, has created a state-of-the-art showroom to present its research goals, leading values and achieved discoveries. The idea behind it: Open up to the public, share insights and create a fascinating, thought-provoking and stimulating environment to give visitors a better understanding of the importance of basic research to meet the challenges of our time. The way to achieve this: Start a new show every four months − with topics such as "Medicine for the Future," "Chemistry for the 21st Century," "Sustainable Energy for our Future" and many more to come, reflecting the exceptionally broad range of research subjects covered by the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft − from quarks to the universe. The unique feature of the Max Planck Science Gallery: All exhibitions are completely digital and interactive. This means that all shows can be changed within a few minutes to display another "exhibition on demand" in line with the interests of special visitor groups.
The Max Planck Science Gallery provides a unique insight into today's cutting-edge research and scientific challenges and into the way scientists think and develop ideas, and ask and answer questions about our world. Click here for more information.