October 20th, 2011

piranha - ice.

Tech Museum: Islamic Science Rediscovered

It’s news to me that Islamic science needs to be rediscovered, but my East Meets West teacher thought that this new exhibit at the Tech Museum was important enough that she was willing to hand out extra credit to students who saw it. I’m never one to pass up a chance for extra points, so I grabbed my friend Marianna and off we went.

It's been years since I've been to the Tech Museum’s permanent exhibits. The last time I went was probably in high school, when my mom was doing some sort of seminar there that granted me free access. For some reason that I can’t remember, I was also stuck downtown, so I’d go into the museum every afternoon to use their free Internet. But, like I said, it’s been ages since I’ve actually looked at the museum proper.

Today, it turned out, did not give me a chance to see how they’ve updated their displays over the past ten years, because special exhibition tickets are separate from museum tickets – and at $16.99 (with student discount!), the ticket for “Islamic Science Rediscovered” was pricey enough.

The exhibit opened about a week ago, but it’s already completely deserted. Marianna and I were the only visitors the entire time we were there. Nice, if you don’t like crowds. It doesn’t speak much for the exhibition’s quality, though…and having had plenty of time to explore the place, my general opinion is that it isn’t worth bothering about.

For the amount charged, I would expect more than a single room exhibit. The nine displays are arranged in circle, each focused on a theme like "Water Control", "Mathematics", “Medicine" and so on. There were some cool things to see and do - wooden models of different inventions, magnetic boards where kids can try making geometric patterns with colored shapes, and even trivia games based on the lives of famous Muslim explorers. But it took us less than an hour to see everything, even allowing time to take notes for a class.

I assume this must be a traveling exhibition, because some of the displays were really beat up, most noticeably the props for "Make Your Own Geometric Shapes" and "Build an Islamic Arch!" We are talking about gouges in the foam, plastic pieces with corners snapped off, and so on. I wouldn't expect that kind of wear and tear from a show that just opened.

But $17 for an hour's so-so entertainment? That's pretty weak. I totally feel ripped off. I don’t know why I’m surprised, though. The Tech’s always overpriced. Remember Star Trek?

Oh well. At least I get extra credit out of this.