From the calendar
Q: Could you tell us a little about what you do at the Saint Louis Science Center?
A: I work with multiple departments to develop and design galleries and specific exhibits. I take the initial ideas from concept to fabrication drawings for our exhibit production shop to build them and oversee the final installation.
What's a typical day like in your job?
My days vary quite a bit; sometimes I might start in my office working on some exhibit designs, which I use a couple computer programs to assist me in this. I might then attend a meeting with multiple departments such as Electronics, Exhibit Production, Graphics and Education, so we can best decide how to create that exhibit to meet our visitors' expectations. It takes a large, talented team with various backgrounds to create the exhibits that our visitors experience. Some days we have a lot of meetings because there are always new projects taking place. No two days are alike at the science center which is part of what I enjoy about it.
Where do you draw inspiration in planning and designing the science center's exhibits?
I read a lot, always keeping up with the latest in design news, science articles, and even off-beat articles looking for new inspiration or to help develop an idea that has been waiting for that right thing to push it into existence. I also enjoy visiting other museums and institutions. Sometimes, it's just a matter of going out and seeing how people interact in the spaces and with our exhibits; you can learn a lot from what works and what doesn't work through observation.
How do you design exhibits that will appeal to visitors of all ages?
We work with a team at the science center to do evaluations and get the best experience for any age visitor. This can be a challenging task because it's a wide age range to cover, but it all comes down to making it understandable. If a child can understand the message, we all can. It really comes down to making learning fun and creating that spark of interest in science and technology for everyone.
What is your all-time favorite exhibit that's been housed at the Saint Louis Science Center?
The air cannon. It's one of our older exhibits that we refurbished and brought back in the last few years.
What's the most challenging exhibit you've designed?
The Experience Energy gallery. We had a short timeline to get the exhibit open. We had to make quick decisions and go with them, but thankfully we have a team of talented individuals that together we were able to create and build a wonderful and fun gallery that visitors really enjoy.
If a young person were interested in pursuing a career like yours, what types of things would you recommend they study in school?
I pursued a fine art degree but there are many routes you can go — design, architecture, museum studies with an emphasis in design. I also worked in carpentry for a while, which has helped me know how to engineer an exhibit properly to withstand heavy use that our visitors give our exhibits.
What's the absolute best thing about doing what you do?
I get to be creative! I get to use my art degree and work in the science field, which is what I love. Science gets my head spinning with all the new discoveries and understandings of the world around us, and I enjoy bringing that to our visitors and wowing them with new knowledge and a fun experience. It's a fun job where you get to stretch your imagination and use creativity to problem solve many different things.
And one final question: What does Mr. T. Rex do after the museum's closed?
He usually reads a good book, brushes those crazy teeth and goes to bed. He has a busy day entertaining children and needs to rest his voice with a full day of roaring ahead of him.
The Saint Louis Science Center is located at 5050 Oakland, Ave., St. Louis, 63110. Call 314-289-4400 for more information.