The Museum of Contemporary Science, formerly called the Invention Factory Science Center, celebrated its new name by co-sponsoring a week-long seminar, the RxeSEARCH Summer Institute, at Montgomery High School. Sixty teachers from four states attended the institute to prepare to learn how to teach the drug development process with a model of integrated learning of science, mathematics, communications and societal issues.
Started by Bristol-Myers Squibb, the institute has found other sponsors, including Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, HealthCare Institute of NJ, Johnson & Johnson, Schering-Plough, Wyeth, GlaxoSmithKline, and the Museum of Contemporary Science.
The museum is rebranding itself, says Diane Carroll, executive director. Located in the historic Roebling factory, it was founded in 1996 as the Invention Factory, and it changed its name to the New Jersey Center for Life Science to reflect the state’s pharma focus. But the second name turned out to be confusing, because the public thought it was a research center or a laboratory.
A focus group of young people, teens and 20 somethings, came up with this name. "Their take was that museums are cool places," says Carroll. A native of Queens, where her father was a machinist, she majored in psychology at the State University of New York at Binghamton, Class of 1973. She was a freelance science writer until she joined Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory to be in charge of science education, and then she was tapped by the museum in 1982.
Most of the $9 million that the museum has raised so far has been used for restoring its 52,000 square-foot headquarters, designed by John Hatch of Clarke Caton Hatch. One wing is finished and is occupied by the employees. Another, the 1890 section, will be ready by the end of the year for special events and fundraisers.
The new name evokes a place that focuses on what is going on in science today – and how it affects people’s lives, which fits in with the museum’s mission. Says Carroll: "We support this initiative by Bristol-Myers Squibb because we encourage any opportunity to introduce students to science and technology. We want to open students’ eyes to new possibilities."
The Museum of Contemporary Science, 675 South Clinton Avenue, Trenton 08611; 609-396-2002; fax, 609-396-0676. Diane L. Carroll, executive director.