A major new exhibition at the Exploratorium in San Francisco is highlighting psychological science. Mind is a collection of 40 interactive exhibits designed to teach the public about psychological processes by evoking thoughts, emotions, and actions.
According to the Exploratorium, visitors will “discover that the exhibits in Mind are actually within yourself: These experiences are windows into the subtle but powerful processes and mechanisms at work inside our heads.”
Most importantly, Mind seeks to educate the public about the science of psychology. The museum says “visitors will learn firsthand that mental and emotional processes — often subtle or even unconscious — are accessible to deep and quantifiable exploration.”
The exhibit encompasses attention, emotion, and judgment — distinct, but intricately related areas of research in the psychological sciences. Take, for example, “Divided Attention,” which highlights the limits of our attentional capacity by forcing visitors to pay attention to multiple stimuli at once.
Or there’s “A Sip of Conflict,” which challenges adventurous museum-goers to drink from a water fountain created from a real but unused toilet. The tension between logic and emotion runs high, as visitors make the gag-inducing choice.
Mind was made possible in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation, and relied extensively on the insights of APS Fellows Paul Ekman, Stephen Palmer, and Michael Cole as well as APS Member Robert Sapolsky, all of whom served on the exhibit’s advisory board.
A photographic exhibition dedicated to Ekman’s research on the universality of human emotion will be included in the exhibit. Ekman will also be appearing at the Exploratorium’s McBean Theater on January 26, 2008, to present his work and participate in a public interview moderated by APS Past President Bob Levenson.
Mind will be on view from November 9, 2007, through December 31, 2008. For more information, go to www.exploratorium.edu/mind/. Watch for more coverage of this exciting exhibit in a future Observer.