Top 10 Museums for Tech Geeks
Museums exist catering to nearly every interest imaginable, and technology and the sciences make up a rather significant niche. Almost every major city boasts at least one, but some in particular stand out for their passion and notable exhibits. Whether looking for a field trip, supplementary lessons or merely a good time, they provide technology geeks with scintillating vacation spots. But even those unable to travel for whatever reason can still pay them an online visit and soak up some amazing sights, sounds and experiences completely for free!
- Museum of Science + Industry, Chicago, IL, USA: As its name suggests, Chicago’s Museum of Science + Industry dives into how the two come to interact with and impact one another. Through the Omnimax Theater and its amazing permanent and temporary exhibitions, the institution provides plenty of lessons in science, technology and their intimate relationship suitable for both kids and adults. For geeks of a certain proclivity, some of the highlights include the Pioneer Zephyr, an interactive coal mine diorama, farm technology, speculation on future inventions, the Henry Crown Space Center, a replica of the Wright Brothers’ airplane and plenty more. Be sure to stop by some of the Live Science Experiences as well, which delight participants with hands-on activities in physics, chemistry, medicine and many more disciplines. Definitely a must-stop for tech geeks of all shapes and sizes whenever a trip to Chicago ensues.
- Sony Wonder Technology Lab, New York, NY, USA: Admission to this imaginative museum comes entirely gratis, making it an excellent field trip for homeschooling or budgeted parents looking to engage their children in entertaining education. Tech geeks big and small hoping to plan a visit here need to check out the program schedule to see what sorts of films (some in HD!), demonstrations and hands-on activities Sony plans to offer. Should nothing jump out as personally engaging or interesting, the laboratory itself explicitly provides state-of-the-art tools meant to stimulate creativity and technological innovation and inquiry. Even the elevator ride up to the lab involves some incredible touch-sensitive tiles treating visitors to unique light, color and texture patterns! Once they reach their ultimate destination, participants create their own personal profiles and map internet usage worldwide (and in the building itself), discover digitization, look at the internal components of popular gadgets, play with games and motion capture, explore nanotechnology and much, much more. Content does seem to veer more towards teaching younger demographics, though adults can certainly appreciate the stimulating experience.
- The Exploratorium, San Francisco, CA, USA: Because The Exploratorium spreads its focus across art, science, culture and — of course — technology, it makes for an amazing conduit towards discovering how they all fit together. Anyone who cannot find something relevant to their interests is either a teenager who thinks detachment comes off as SO VERY EDGY, YOU GUYS or a puppy kicker. For devotees of all things technological, their extensive offerings cover the aerospace industry and materials, but fragments of engineering and innovation still filter into the lessons on culture, art and the sciences as well. Even those unable to travel all the way out to San Francisco still benefit from their fanatical devotion to education. The official Exploratorium website overflows with fact sheets, suggestions for home projects and games reflecting many of the exhibits, activities, events and demonstrations offered at the physical museum.
- Imperial War Museum, London, England, UK: Technology geeks harboring a particular affinity for weaponry and transportation should certainly place London’s Imperial War Museum on their “must visit” lists. War machines from different nations and different times stand on display for patrons’ consideration, and rotating exhibitions place them in their proper contexts. Beyond the scientific and technological, visitors gain valuable insight into the political, social, historical and economic factors of humanity’s battles against one another. This provides war geeks with a wonderfully diverse selection of lessons piecing together intricacies and granting them a broader perspective on their passion. Imperial War Museum also extends to 3 satellite locations in Belfast, Duxford and Manchester and provides tours and lectures at the Churchill War Rooms, also in London.
- Space Center Houston, Houston, TX, USA: Out in Clear Lake, TX, sits the famous Johnson Space Center, home of NASA’s Mission Control, astronaut training and research. A goodly portion of the campus dedicates itself to bringing the astronomical back down to Earth so that visitors may learn more about the aerospace industry. Many retired manned and unmanned spacecrafts stand on display for people to explore and, occasionally, interact with, and other exhibits highlight the intricacies of the science and technology behind everything from shuttles to telescopes. Anyone fascinated by the people responsible for humanity’s ascent into the heavens should sign up for the tours of Mission Control and astronaut training labs. For obvious reasons, tourists cannot watch the former in action, though some may witness spacefarers preparing themselves for future trips using the state-of-the-art facilities, including an insanely amazing pool.
- Computer History Museum, Mountain View, CA, USA: Appropriately enough, the Computer History Museum calls Silicone Valley home. Hosting one of the world’s largest collections of relevant memorabilia, the institution shows how one of the most familiar, commonplace technologies out there came into existence. Follow its fascinating evolution as well as the peoples and sciences involved by browsing their permanent and temporary exhibitions of everything from microprocessors to internet phenomena. Some dive into the far past to look at the developments that led into the establishment of today’s speedy computers, many of which may come as quite a surprise to the less well-versed out there. Like many museums, this one hosts a slew of excellent online activities as a means of better spreading their joy to the broadest possible audience. Even those unable to make it out to California still benefit from what they have to offer!
- Miraikan, Tokyo, Japan: Alternately known as the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, this institution encourages visitors to look at the past and present in order to coalesce a vision of a possible future. Permanent exhibits revolve around earth and life sciences and developing and information technologies — all of them, of course, stressing the engineering and innovation involved with them. Numerous special events featuring speakers and guests from all over the world always spot the schedule, and the Dome Theater plays a nice selection of documentaries and other nonfiction, informative films highlighting various scientific topics. Anime-style presentations on what many of today’s technologies may mean for the future frequently get played there as well.
- Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C., USA: For the unapologetic aerospace fan, the venerable Smithsonian offers up two Washington, D.C. locations chock-a-block with all sorts of technological goodies. As befitting such a world-class institution, their collections and archives offer up far more than what visitors could hope to explore in one day, including the Wright Brothers’ actual plane from 1903. They put exhaustive work into researching and restoring relics from the very first whispers of flight to today’s space shuttles, once considered the exclusive domain of science fiction. If one just can’t seem to get enough of their exhibitions, look over the day’s activities. Something almost always goes on, and their extensive archive of online games, lessons and fact sheets easily occupy moments where they’re not.
- The Tech Museum, San Jose, California, USA: All anyone needs to know about this place can be found right there in its name. Outside of its highly worthwhile online exhibitions, their permanent collections showcase a very lovely spectrum of technological topics. No matter if they relate to the life sciences, outer space, the internet and myriad other disciplines what factor into engineering, The Tech Museum features something appealing for all the hardcore rocking geeks out there. More tactile learners can especially appreciate the generous amount of interactive activities involving different challenges and engaging history lessons. Visitors should also check out what IMAX films are playing there as well, as many of them tie directly into their temporary and not-so-temporary exhibitions. Though the latest Hollywood blockbusters do slip in there on occasion as well.
- The Museum of Jurassic Technology, Culver City, CA: When people today think of technology, they often (and understandably) mentally zoom in on the latest and greatest in gadgetry. The Museum of Jurassic Technology hops to bend that paradigm by showcasing a flurry of biological curiosities. More of an institute for natural history than anything else, it challenges visitors to consider the delicate inner workings of life as a technology in and of itself. Certainly a bold statement considering mainstream perceptions, but by no means a wrong one, especially when one considers how the brightest, most innovative minds often turn towards natural wonders for inspiration! In spite of its nomenclature, much of the collection does not necessarily hail from the lower Jurassic, but rather from a broad range of eras.