The Open Joint Stock Company Gazprom has allocated 14,000 square meters for the creation of a science museum in the Lakhta Center building, which is now under construction. Sergey Stafeev, the dean of the Natural Sciences Faculty in the ITMO University, the Optical Museum curator, the consultant of the World of Science for Children and Youth in the Lakhta Center project, talks about why science museums are needed, what awaits the visitors of the exhibition and what "vaccinations" are necessary for the schoolchildren.
- St. Petersburg is considered to be not only cultural, but also the museum capital of Russia. There are about 300 museums of different orientation. But what about the science museums?
- The number of such projects increased recently, but this is not enough. After the Perelman's House of entertaining science opening in 1935 and until the beginning of the XXI century, there were no proper science museums in Russia. This long period of time adversely affected the attitude of youth to the technical and science education. Of course, this is not only the Russian problem, but rather a global trend. But most countries, especially in Europe and America, have recognized the need of developing the interest to science among the school children and youth. It can include the science museums creation, where it is possible to tell clearly and interestingly about scientific achievements with the use of modern technical capabilities. This method really works. Dozens of major Russian scientists, engineers and inventors remember that their first interest in science and technology appeared after the visiting of the Leningrad House of entertaining science. At that time it was jokingly called the "Perelman's scientific vaccination".
In St. Petersburg now there are at least two similar projects - Optimus and Labirintum. I consider them successful, though this doesn't mean that the problem is solved.
There are several science museums in other Russian cities. The new Planetarium and the Experimentarium museum work in Moscow, the Polytechnic Museum is under reconstruction. Interesting Science House is opened in Kazan, SB RAS Science and Technology Museum is located in Novosibirsk etc. However, given the size of our country, we can say that it is a drop in the bucket. In this regard, we are very far behind the leading countries of the world. There are centers of science and technology for children in every major city in Europe, America and China. It is assumed that our World of Science will be the center of attraction for the talented youth.
- Are you using the foreign and Russian experience of the science museums creation?
Of course, we are using the experience of European and American companies that work in this sphere. One can easily find the information about them and their projects in the Internet. Despite the fact that such projects are very expensive we'll certainly use all the modern technical capabilities. Also, we'll try to take into account the experience of our colleagues from the St. Petersburg science museums. Over the past 15 years we have visited almost all the world's major museums of science and technology. I can't say that the project in the Lakhta Center will be a copy of a foreign project. Every project has its own strengths and weaknesses; we'll try to do the best we can and to emphasize the uniqueness and originality of our center.
- The World of Science will be located in the Gazprom office, Lakhta Center. What are the advantages of such an arrangement? It is pretty far from the St. Petersburg center.
- Typically, these museums are located either in shopping malls or in the separate buildings in the city suburbs. We have chosen a different path, which has some certain advantages in our opinion. First, this is not a typical shopping mall, but a business complex, which has its own innovation center, classroom fund and media library. The Lakhta Center building itself is a unique high-tech design solution with the incredible 500-meter tower. It'll certainly attract the attention of St. Petersburg citizens and guests. If we place here not only the entertaining, but also the educational and research equipment, establish the systematic work of St. Petersburg Universities with the school children, we'll get a really symbolic brand that will confirm the status of our city as a cultural and scientific capital of Russia.
- What will the visitors find in the World of Science?
- Like I said, the originality of our center is very important for us. Therefore, the exhibition will be devoted not only to the achievements of the global and Russian science, but also to the St. Petersburg scientists - from Lomonosov to Alferov. In certain sections the main research and production clusters of St. Petersburg will be presented: shipbuilding and automobile production, optoelectronics, information technologies, medicine and others. Finally, we will certainly provide a platform for the leading technical universities of the city: their booths and simulators, workshops and science shows will be a part of the World of Science project.
In addition to the organizing of the exhibition, we are planning the various events, so that the acquaintance of school children with science will not be limited by visiting of the museum. There'll be the full-time and remote scientific lectures, group mini-studies, educational television and internet channels. The museum can become a platform for the olympiads and various specialized competitions. I understand that it won't be easy to organize all these things, but I am sure that, with some appropriate support from the scientists, the city government and the Gazprom, our plans may be implemented without any problems.