Peter Richards Tour Art Science Collaborations

ANAT initiated an Australian tour for Peter Richards during 1993.

Image sourced from The Exploratorium

Image sourced from The Exploratorium

Peter is the Director of the Arts Program at the San Francisco Exploratorium. The Exploratorium is the international founder of interactive Science Centres, which seek to explain science to a broad public audience through exhibits which can be touched; which usually require the audience’s participation to provide knowledge of the mechanics of natural phenomena.

Some years ago The Exploratorium began to use artists and scientists working together to design their exhibits. They have found it to be a rich collaboration that has allowed whole new perspectives to be brought to the craft of explaining science to audiences at large.

With the help of ANAT Chair Linda Cooper, ANAT was able to organise Peter Richards’ visit to Australia, which was funded by the Exploratorium in order for him to visit the Investigator Centre in Adelaide, and undertake a tour of other cities.

ANAT organised Peter Richards to speak with staff at the Australian Museum in Sydney about artists working in science museums. Peter also spoke to a public meeting of approximately thirty artists at The Gunnery, Woolloomooloo where he showed slide and video tape examples of the work of artists at the Exploratorium. The presentation was a fascinating one with artists producing very rich and potent work, but work which by necessity, is somewhat distanced from work regarded as ‘art’ by the institutional avant-garde, with artists needing to consider not only the language and knowledge that is science, but also deal with the practical requirements of an exhibit for The Exploratorium. Practical considerations include things such as; able to be operated and not destroyed by children, be good neighbours with the exhibits alongside them, as well as providing useful scientific information in an exciting way.

From Sydney, Peter went to Canberra where he spoke at the National Science and Technology Centre, Questacon to an audience comprised of science museum professionals and artists. Like the Sydney visit, artists were invited to attend this meeting via local contemporary art spaces such as Canberra Contemporary Art Space, ANAT mailouts and through NAVA. In Adelaide, Peter Richards again addressed an audience of both science interested people and artists with an audience of 45 people at the Investigator Science & Technology Centre.

As a result of Peter’s visit the Investigator Science & Technology Centre has begun talking with ANAT about developing a number of projects which would be staged in Science Centres in 1995. An application is to be submitted to the Science Awareness program to assist these proposed projects. ASTEN, the Australian Science & Technology Exhibitors Network have expressed enthusiasm for developing art links after receiving an approach from ANAT at a national meeting held in Melbourne in November, 1993.

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