I just read a short article by Marion Maria Ruisinger (curator of the medical collections at the Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg) in the UMAC Journal — and was struck by the fact that she declares, without much ado, that

“three-dimensional objects … have an immense potential for the communication of science”.

I agree, intuitively. I’ve used the same argument in applications for funding. However, it is one thing to claim that this is the case (and intuitively feel it is right), another thing is to give empirical evidence for it and, if it turns out to be the case, to give some reasons for why (I’m one of those modernist oldies who like empirical evidence and rational arguments  :-).

So, is it true? Do we have any substantial empirically based studies that tell us that people understand or engage better with science after having been confronted with material artefacts from museum collections?

And if this is the case — why is it then that artefacts have such an alleged immense potential for the communication of science — in addition to what can be communicated via popular books, magazine articles, newspapers, TV programs, websites, podcasts, Facebook-groups, Flickr-images, blogs, etc.?

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