Despite opening just across the street from Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, the new Chemical Heritage Museum is not designed for families wearing foam Liberty Bell hats. Museum CFO Miriam Schaeffer told us that every exhibit — from the Periodic Table video column to the one-of-a-kind replica Bakelizer — is designed for serious-minded adults. “We quote the Roman poet Lucretius in our exhibit text,” she said. “An eight-year-old’s just not gonna get it.”
Miriam is excited regardless of her professional demeanor. She told us that the Bakelizer “looks like an outer space diving bell” and that the Museum’s chemistry set exhibit is “pretty nifty.” She’s also convinced that museum’s adult approach is the correct one. “I don’t believe that the only people on the planet who are interested in science, and who can lean anything about science, are kids,” she said. “Grownups can learn stuff too.”
We admit that our interest in science is often juvenile. The Chemical Heritage Museum caught our attention when it released a photo of what looked like a giant, naked rat — part of an exhibit titled “Molecules That Matter.” Miriam said that the rat is actually a sculpture of a genetically-modified obese mouse, and that it will only be on display until February. After that, fun-seeking adults can seek satisfaction in the Museum’s “15 Instruments That Changed The World” exhibit, and in its genuine Nobel Prize medal — although Miriam said that visitors won’t be allowed to wear it.
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