Need of science museums in Pakistan

THE BIG difference between the scientist and the layman in their knowledge and understanding of scientific principles and technology attaches great handicap to Pakistans economic and cultural development, which inadequately meet by academia. In more economically advanced centers of world museums of science and technology have proven their efficiency significantly bridge this gap. Here the exhibits of scientific materials and their application to human use are easy to understand and has attractive features for all ages and conditions of people, educated and illiterate. Science museums can contribute enormously to science education in Pakistan by a new dimension of education and access to education for those who have limited opportunity.

Generally museums are classified as museums of history, science and art. In some cases, they may display identical objects, but from different perspectives. As in case of an astrolabe which can be used to illustrate the history of the machines, science celestial measurements, or line of old Arab craftsman. But art museums exist to provide both aesthetic gratification, while history museum to examine successes and failures in human history, and science museums deals with the past, present and future, as a way to help us understand their place in creation.

The museums of science and technology are concerned with principles, processes and products. In broadest conception they will deal with the mathematical, physical, chemical, and biological sciences. The museums treat too of technology, the practical application of science, and in this manner deal with agriculture, industrial processes and public health. And there can be many special types of science museums, examples being health, farm, fisheries, space, and marine museum etc.

The main concerns of the science museum are school children who are more receptive mind. Museum helps the teachers by providing explanatory materials in the field of education classrooms. For adults who did not get many opportunities to get education also benefit from science museum. In museums and galleries also it plans to attract those who have more advanced training and planned to serve the high school and university students and the general public. Museum occupies a unique position among educational institutions appeal to people of all ages.

Museums are by tradition conservers of objects, but the purely preservative phase of museology is no longer justified as a sole objective. Unless the collections are used as the basis for active research or education the institution will prove sterile.

Exhibits are always the core of the educational program of museums, the use of exhibits are made more effective in several manners i.e. exhibition guide service, publications, auditorium programs, planetarium, etc. Among others, the planetariums have proved extremely useful in teaching, especially in the fields of astronomy, time measurement, navigation, surveying, and above all for opening minds as to the magnitude of creation.

Knowledge will never grow without the spirit of investigation, research must be included in any program of development and from the very first research activities should receive attention. In the natural sciences this should relate to collections rather than the fields of the experimental laboratory, for only an institution supporting collections can encourage such work. In the present state of knowledge of Pakistans flora and fauna there is only one museum – Pakistan Museum of Natural History (PMNH), and there is room for great deal of systematic exploration and the same is true in the fields of geology and others.

Science museums serve as authoritative centers for the identification of natural history material, for it is only on the basis of comparison with scientifically documented and studied collection that such service can reliably provide. The science museums in their research activities conduct critical field studies and explorations and so become fountain-heads on knowledge. Any well-staffed museum serves as a clearing house on research projects within its own region and its counsel is of importance in matters bearing on a countrys national resources.

The public museums of Pakistan are today confined mainly and mostly to the fields of history, archeology, and art. There are total 27 museums in Pakistan, while only two museums are science museums; National Museum of Science and Technology, Lahore, and Pakistan Museum of Natural History, Islamabad, others are at university level museums which are not for general public. One analysis, apparently based on a count of these museums, indicates one museum per 7,037,037 persons in Pakistan, which clearly shows the dearth of museums in Pakistan.

The greatest service to the museum movement at this time would be provision of full support to at-least one generalized museum including the fields of science, technology, and industry, in each district headquarter which could serve as a training and indoctrination center for persons in each of the skills necessary for the establishment of other museums, especially in science and other fields.

According to a study report “Proposal for the Development of Science Museums in Pakistan”, 1956 by Robert T. Hatt, UNESCO Expert in Science Museums “every town of over 50,000 populations should eventually have a museum. Servicing smaller centers there should be travelling museums, “museumobiles”, bringing educational stimulus to less privileged districts. Such expansion of the museum program must, however, follow maturity of museums in the larger centers.”

Instead of establishing large buildings in the beginning, a small exhibition space is far better than a large one; that a small fine exhibition is far more effective educationally than a large poor one. A high standard in first efforts would do much to gain the esteem of the community; a low standard would handicap future for development.

It is a mistake to construct large buildings during the early stages of a museums career. A museum is not a building but an organization, and until the organization has taken shape it is shortsighted to attempt to house it. Temporary quarters afford the best opportunity for natural growth up to the point where there is stability, constructive work, knowledge of requirements, definite outlook, and grounding in sympathy that assures support. This is a matter of virility, not age….. It is hardly justified in spending its own or the publics money for a building unless the organization is well managed, active, growing, and gives promise of paying dividends in service.

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