We’ve made something of a goal of visiting and assessing science museums over the last few years and this weekend’s visit has reinforced our view that Questacon is up there with the best. While Questacon is not the largest museum by a long shot, it does the things it does supremely well. The exhibits are clever and they all work – and when they are broken they are clearly labelled as not working, so no confusion there. The explanatory text is absolutely brilliant; it’s clear, engaging and immediately pertinent to the exhibit.
The exhibits are backed by well-informed staff providing further information and hugely entertaining shows. Really the only museum we’ve seen that beats Questacon overall is the NEMO museum in Amsterdam (although there are others that might do better in specific areas). I like the way they have organized the exhibits into categories, although I could wish they told more of a developing story within those areas. The exhibits are great little factoids, but they lack any overarching story arc to give context to the facts. In a similar vein they don’t demonstrate any history of science, which is a shame because its developing nature is crucial for kids to understand – that the very nature if science is about exploration not absolutes.
But I’m quibbling, at the end of the day, Questacon is a truly World-class facility and one we should be very proud of. Really, my only serious criticism of Questacon is that it is in Canberra, not Sydney.