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severalog

The biggest heart

J. Harry Caufield

I'm grateful that my parents took me to so many museums when I was growing up. We'd go to the Franklin Institute maybe once or twice a year until I was a bit too old to really get anything out of it. Even traveling into Philly for the day was exciting: it was like the infinite highway would suddenly drop us into a noisy, smoky City. I live in a fairly dense metropolitan area now but I still don't consider it a capital-C City. Then on to the FI, and the following attractions:

  • The giant heart, of course. 
  • A Rube Goldberg-esque mechanical sculpture which moved some kind of wooden balls around ad infinitum.
  • Video demonstrations about antibodies.
  • The Omnimax, which I guess is called IMAX Dome now
I'm really not doing these memories justice. There's a particular childlike joy only found in memories of science museums. I remember visiting the FI again sometime in the early undergraduate years and finding it underwhelming. I was older, certainly, but the exhibits also seemed to gloss over most scientific explanations for phenomena in favor of snappy little demonstrations without much rationale behind them. It was less of "this is why things happen like they do" and more of "hey look at this happening! That's because of Science!" Plus, a good quarter of the exhibits were broken or damaged from use.

I'd still take kids to museums now. There must be ways to cultivate wonder and the search for meaning concurrently.