I’ve just read a paper from the first mostly-online Museums Australia mag. (See the members section of Museums Australia.)
I have never been to the Museum Of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles, but I’ve loved the idea of it since reading Lawrence Weschler’s book Mr Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder: Pronged Ants, Horned Humans, Mice on Toast, and Other Marvels of Jurassic Technology (1995). It seems to be the kind of place that you could visit again and again without ever exhausting the experience. So it was a great pleasure to read Mark Thomson and Stephen Bowers’ article Strange riches: The Museum of Jurassic Technology (PDF 132kb).
For Thomson and Bowers, the MJT occupies ‘a sort of netherworld between scientific fact and classical fiction, between ambiguity and amazement, speculation and assurance’. That in-between-ness is perhaps central to its appeal, and surely to its success as a space for learning. It is authoritative but at the same time it is playful, so you must decide for yourself how to take it. How refreshing! And how foreign that concept is to most education programs in museums.
Most satisfyingly, when you get to the end of the article, you learn that the authors are Director and Field Researcher respectively of the Australasian Institute of Backyard Studies. Love it.