History of the Department of Science Communication
In 1988, the Department for Knowledge Transfer and Public Relations was established at the NHM Vienna with a tiny team of three and a huge range of tasks. One zoologist, one graphic designer, and one museum educator were responsible for special and permanent exhibitions, guided tours, press relations, and marketing. At that time it was rare for a museum to have a separate department for these tasks.
In the following 15 years the team grew to cope with the diverse field of activities, the extended opening hours, and the growing number of special exhibitions and events. Science editors, museum educators, graphic designers, exhibition technicians, and numerous freelancers completed the team.
In 2003, with the spin-off and transformation of the NHM Vienna into a scientific institution under public law, the department, which had become large, was split into Exhibitions & Education and Public Relations & Marketing. In addition, the newly founded Department of Ecology was responsible for the outdoor programs at the Petronell-Carnuntum field site.
In 2006 Exhibitions & Education’s extensive range of guided tours, projects, and workshops for a wide variety of audiences and ages was expanded to include a microtheater where visitors could observe the tiniest of living creatures under a powerful microscope.
In 2014 the Digital Planetarium opened, inviting visitors to embark for the first time on virtual excursions into space.
The Department of Science Communication was founded on 1 December 2020. This was much more than merely renaming Exhibitions & Education, integrating outdoor environmental education, and splitting off exhibition organization and technology. Our 20-member-strong team aims to achieve a quantum leap in teaching and learning at the museum by appealing to diverse visitor groups with a wide range of participatory, citizen science and open science activities tackling both scientific issues and socio-politically relevant topics. The new Deck 50 offers ideal conditions for this with a variety of discussion and dialogue options plus a stage, multimedia furniture, and a laboratory. As a scientific department, we are also responsible for museum studies and visitor research. This means finding out more about your demands and concerns regarding the NHM Vienna and also letting you participate much more in the scientific work carried out here at one of Austria's leading research institutions.