The Exploratorium in San Francisco and the Technorama in Winterthur, Switzerland, are challenging the notion of the traditional science museum. Although the two institutions are 5,000 miles apart, they share a common philosophy as well as a common bond.
Remo Besio, former director of Technorama: the Swiss Science Center, and Claire Pillsbury, project director at the Exploratorium, sit down at swissnex San Francisco to discuss the role of museums in communicating science to the general public. They’ll share their observations on how their two organizations have learned from each other during almost twenty years of collaboration, and explain the ideas behind the reinterpretation of the science center.
Both the Exploratorium and the Technorama embrace interactive exhibits that nurture curiosity and help visitors understand the world around them better. This innovative approach to learning transforms the institutions into living laboratories where participation is invited and expected and where “Please do not touch!” is replaced by “Try it!”
6:30 pm doors open
7:00 pm discussion and Q&A
8:00 pm reception and networking
9:00 pm doors close
Besio worked in the machine tool industry prior to joining the Technorama as a business administrator. In 1990, inspired by his visits to the Ontario Science Centre in Canada and the Exploratorium in San Francisco, he proposed a radically new approach for the Technorama: to transform its classical collection into a lively, hands-on learning environment in the style of a modern science center.
The plan was accepted and he was appointed executive director; the re-imagination of Technorama began. Over the years, Technorama has built up a world-class collection of phenomena-based contemporary art pieces along with innovative, interactive exhibits. His work was recognized with the Kulturpreis der Stadt Winterthur (Cultural Award of the City of Winterthur) in 2001. After eighteen years as executive director, Besio retired in 2008. He periodically consults with science centers in Europe.
In addition to his achievements at Technorama, he holds a diploma in marketing and is an accomplished amateur pianist who has performed with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra.
Project director at the Exploratorium, Pillsbury leads interdisciplinary development teams of graphic designers, writers, evaluators, exhibit engineers, programmers, exhibit designers, and external advisors to create new interactive exhibits.
Her prior work included exhibit development and program collaboration with science centers, children’s museums, and history museums in the United States, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, and Brazil. She holds a BA in psychology from the University of California at Berkeley.
Photo: Myleen Hollero