Thursday, June 19, 2008

Islam Science Museum

Look out for the mural on the wall of the Islam Science Museum about the history of flight on one of the walls of the museum: it starts with an ancient figure with cloth wings strapped to their arms and works it way through the centuries to a F35 stealth fighter, just glimpsed disappearing off the other end of the mural. If it seems fanciful to include an F35 in a mural about Islam, keep in mind that Turkey is a member of NATO and has advanced military aircraft.

One of the best exhibits of the museum for me were the Astrolabes, which were the notebook computers of the ancient world, used for calculating the position of the planets. Like a notebook PC, these were expensive and intricately made devices.

Some of the mundane aspects of the museum could be improved. As an example the toilet doors have difficult to operate fragile looking locks which should be replaced before they break. The liquid soap dispensers could be moved 100 mm closer to the mirrors, so they drip soap into the hand basin, not onto the bench.

The museum could do with a gift shop/cafe, ideally near the entrance/exit. The globe of the ancient world which features outside the museum would make a good logo for the organisation and in miniature would make a good souvenir to sell in the gift shop.

The door to the museum is difficult to find and some banners would be useful. This might be combined with some umbrellas and a kiosk.

There are stone towers of the original building used as stairways at regular intervals. These are dark and would benefit from a skylight or light tube directing natural light into the building (suitably filtered to protect the exhibits).

The multimedia content showed on screens in the museum are excellent. This might be combined with the text information to provide an online resource for schools. To save on the cost of maintaining this information, the same content as used in the museum could be used online.

An online catalog would also benefit visitors who have difficulty reading the signs in the museum, due to eyesight or language difficulties. They could have the text displayed on a hand held device, translated into their language or read out to them through a headset. This is commonly done in large museums, but at great expense with the special guide material needing to be prepared and provided on specially rented electronic devices. Instead the museum could simply make the same catalog content for people to use on their own devices.

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