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Life on DisplayRevolutionizing U.S. Museums of Science and Natural History in the Twentieth Century$
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Karen A. Rader and Victoria E. M. Cain

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226079660

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226079837.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 21 October 2019

“An Investment in the Future of America”:

“An Investment in the Future of America”:

Competing Pedagogies in Post-Sputnik Museums, 1957–1969

(p.175) Five “An Investment in the Future of America”
Life on Display

Karen A. Rader

Victoria E. M. Cain

University of Chicago Press

After Sputnik’s launch, science and natural history museum directors urged the federal government to invest more heavily in the informal education that museums offered. But what constituted effective education in the life sciences, and the role museums should play in that process, now proved a more controversial topic. Teachers, science policy-makers and scientists argued broadly over the relative merits of discipline-based science pedagogy and science literacy in the late 1950s, conflicts that found their way into museum exhibits. Within museums, the on-going professionalization of exhibition work continued to improve the appearance of displays, and evolution as a biological concept slowly found its way into exhibits. By the end of the 1960s, however, federal educational leadership had jumpstarted more productive dialogues about display pedagogy and these dialogues attracted renewed attention to museums’ potential contributions to informal and formal science education.

Keywords:   exposure, discipline-based pedagogy, post-Sputnik science education, professional exhibition design, science literacy, interactivity, informal education, The Belmont Conference, National Science Foundation, Pacific Science Center

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