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Texas Museum Loses Climate Change Display

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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The hall at Dallas's Perot Museum of Nature and Science, where the missing panel was supposed to hang.

Science museums are among the most trusted sources of information about the world around us. At their best, they offer fun, interactive, rich learning environments that surprise, inspire and enlighten their visitors. Readers of this blog know that my daughter and I spend hours at these places working on engineering projects, building bridges and ball drops, and examining animal skulls. And many of the researchers and future investigators I interview credit science centers with giving them their start.

When science museums tackle controversial topics head-on, they boost their credibility even more, according to several studies, including this one by Reach Advisors.

But the continuing controversy over global warming – not among scientists, but among pundits — is putting pressure on museums to water down their climate exhibits.

In a June 15, 2014 front-page story for The Dallas Morning News, where I’m a staff science writer, I reported that our local science museum – an impressive, starchitect-designed institution built with millions of dollars from the oil and gas industry –  lost a display about climate change prior to its opening in December, 2012. Executives from the Perot Museum of Nature and Science said they did not learn about the omission or take steps to address it until I began making inquiries about it earlier this month.

While the Perot Museum said its donors have no direct influence over museum content and have never expressed opposition to displays about global warming, other science museums admitted to softening their presentations.  ”We don’t need people to come in here and reject us,’” said one curator from Houston.

Museums and scientific institutions across the country reported facing similar issues.

Read The Dallas Morning News for the full story here.

Update 06/20/2014: Perot Museum Replaces Missing Climate Change Panel

Image credits: (top) Perot Museum of Nature and Science; (bottom) Anna Kuchment

 

About the Author: Anna Kuchment is a Contributing Editor at Scientific American and a staff science writer at The Dallas Morning News. She was previously a reporter, writer and editor with Newsweek magazine. She is also author of “The Forgotten Cure,” about bacteriophage viruses and their potential as weapons against antibiotic resistance. Follow on Twitter @akuchment.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. temujinkan 10:17 am 06/16/2014

    As usual, nobody wants to hear the truth!

    Link to this
  2. 2. schatzieD 10:28 am 06/16/2014

    Thank you, Ms. Kuchment for bringing this to everyone’s attention. These “museum executives” are either lying or they are incompetent. Neither bodes well for their facility and its patrons.

    Link to this
  3. 3. Bremsstrahlung 9:46 pm 06/16/2014

    Even the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. has buckled under pressure. Remember the Enola Gay/Hiroshima display controversy of a few years ago?

    http://tinyurl.com/my8rwyn

    Link to this
  4. 4. mblarson323 10:05 am 06/17/2014

    Not a big surprise for Texas; a decidedly science-hostile state, unless the science somehow involves guns.

    Link to this
  5. 5. scutchen 2:57 pm 06/17/2014

    “For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations. Because nature cannot be fooled.” — Richard Feynman, Rogers Commission

    Link to this
  6. 6. Daddio7 3:32 pm 06/17/2014

    So climate change is real. They have dire predictions of life after global warming. Why don’t the show life after stopping global warming. We will not “transition” to renewables. Many will be force back onto farms, puling plows, You think PETA is going to let us “enslave” 30 million horses and mules again? People in northern climates will have to spend the winters in 10 x 10 Igloo Coolers to keep from freezing to death while the elderly in the South are dieing of heatstroke after air conditioning is banned. Kind of like living under Sharia law, the enforcers love it, and the people at the top ignore it.

    Link to this
  7. 7. QRIUS1 8:52 pm 06/18/2014

    You are trying to make a debate of an issue about which, most scientists agree, there is no debate! Aside from the dubiousness of your statements, you ought to use a spelling and punctuation checker. This is a scientific site and good science demands precision.

    Link to this
  8. 8. QRIUS1 8:53 pm 06/18/2014

    You are trying to make a debate of an issue about which, most scientists agree, there is no debate! Aside from the dubiousness of your statements, you ought to use a spelling and punctuation checker. This is a scientific site and good science demands precision.

    Link to this
  9. 9. wjohnfaust 1:38 pm 06/21/2014

    Facts and an understanding of reality have always been threats to the greed barons. Not surprising then that education in any form (including museums) would be pressured to avert its eyes from the deadly consequences of their rapacious behavior.

    Link to this
  10. 10. karl 12:14 am 06/25/2014

    well, if it was a crime ridden city I would blame it to robbers,
    “holey smokes Batman! who would steal a carbon footprint diorama?”
    “perhaps Alfred or Lucius Fox… acting on behalf of Wayne Oil Robin”
    on another day or city, well, look at new cosmos, the chapter about lead in gasoline.7

    Link to this
  11. 11. hkraznodar 1:13 pm 06/26/2014

    @Daddio7 – People that failed out of grade school really are not qualified to comment on science anywhere. As we increase the efficiency of our renewable energy sources we are indeed in a situation where we can actually use renewable energy sources as a primary provider. I’ve been waiting 35 years for it but we are now at that time. The main problem is energy storage.

    You give far too much credence to the idea of loss of technology as the only way to fight global warming. Reducing population is a much better option and only requires easy access to birth control.

    If you think PETA has any real clout you are seriously out of date. When it came out that PETA kills more animals per year than hunters do, they lost a lot of support.

    Link to this

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