The art of science

“ART HAD to come to rescue science from its boringness.”

– Emily Abrera (board member)

It may raise some eyebrows among defensive science buffs, but this statement perfectly encapsulates the principles that built the newest and already most celebrated science museum in the country: The Mind Museum.

Taking up an entire hectare of land in Bonifacio Global City, the museum is the product of the attempt to unify science and art, and the one billion peso answer to the simple question, “How can science be presented differently?”

Culturally, Filipinos are an aesthetically driven people. Art and the opportunity to be involved in it is what catches and holds our attention. Generally, it isn’t enough to hand us notes on solar energy and expect us get a kick out of reading them. We respond best to what is tangible and what is beautiful.

THE LIGHT LIFE. These solar-powered bug models are kept mobile by a halogen lamp that represents the sun.

That is a lesson Maribel Garcia, the curator and visionary of the museum, picked up from her 25 years as a science writer.

“I noticed that when you use language that is beautiful—and I don’t mean dumb or simple, I mean beautful–you access certain minds who otherwise would not have really paid attention to how the world works,” she said.

With this in mind, she conceptualized the museum so that it would demonstrate science in a fashion previously unknown to the general Filipino public. She said, “We were going to do science exhibits, but we were going to use art as a strategy, not the goal… It is still ultimately to show a principle in science, but we would have to cloak it in really beautiful forms.”

I love the theory behind this museum. Their attempt to accomplish it is evident in a number of their exhibits, from the fossil cave with its sand-covered floor to the playground installations with their bubble-makers and off-center see-saws, but they still seem to have a lot to work on.

I was a little disappointed that a number of the exhibits were out or order or not yet ready for use at all. I was hoping for something as interactive as San Francisco’s Exploratorium (but I was only six when I went, and people have a bad habit of becoming less excitable as they get older). Then again, I was only there on its second official day, and allowance ought to be given for birthing pains.

Stan the T-Rex is named after Stan Sacrison, the discoverer of T-Rex bones in the 1980s.

Nonetheless, the international praise the museum has received isn’t unwarranted. It’s the first and only museum of its kind in the country, and for that alone it deserves recognition.