Perennial Prototypes: Designing Science Exhibits with John Dewey

  • Kim Kullman
Part of the Design Research Foundations book series (DERF)


This chapter evokes the writings of John Dewey to investigate his pragmatist design philosophy through a study on exhibit development at the Exploratorium science museum in San Francisco. The chapter begins by describing the main features of Dewey’s thinking, concentrating specifically on two notions: experience and experiment. It then transposes these into the area of exhibit development to explore their potential for contemporary design practice and their largely unexamined implications for design theory.


John Dewey Pragmatism Design Science museums Exhibits 


  1. Adams, C. (2013). Techne and logos at the edge of space. In L. Valentine (Ed.), 2013. Prototype. Design and Craft in the 21st Century (pp. 99–113). London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  2. Allen, S., & Gutwill, J. (2004). Designing with multiple interactives: Five common pitfalls. Curator: The Museum Journal, 2(47), 199–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bates, C., Imrie, R., & Kullman, K. (Eds.). (2017). Design and care: Bodies, buildings, cities. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  4. Brassett, J., & Marenko, B. (2015). Introduction. In B. Marenko & J. Brassett (Eds.), Deleuze and Design (pp. 1–30). Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Cole, K. C. (2009). Something incredibly wonderful happens. Frank Oppenheimer and his astonishing Exploratorium. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  6. Dalsgaard, P. (2014). Pragmatism and design thinking. International Journal of Design, 1(8), 143–155.Google Scholar
  7. Dewey, J. (1991). The public and its problems. Athens: Swallow Press.Google Scholar
  8. Dewey, J. (1997a). Experience and education. New York: Touchstone.Google Scholar
  9. Dewey, J. (1997b). How we think. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  10. Dewey, J. (2004a). Essays in experimental logic. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  11. Dewey, J. (2004b). Democracy and education. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  12. Dewey, J. (2005). Art as experience. New York: Perigee.Google Scholar
  13. Dewey, J. (2015a). Experience and nature. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  14. Dewey, J. (2015b). The school and society / the child and the curriculum. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  15. Dunne, A., & Raby, F. (2013). Speculative everything. Design, fiction, and social dreaming. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.Google Scholar
  16. Gunn, W., Otto, T., & Smith, R. C. (Eds.). (2013). Design anthropology. Theory and practice. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  17. Gutwill, J. P. (2008). Challenging a common assumption of hands-on exhibits. How counterintuitive phenomena can undermine inquiry. Journal of Museum Education, 2(33), 187–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hein, H. (1990). The Exploratorium. The museum as laboratory. Washington, DC: The Smithsonian Museum Press.Google Scholar
  19. Hein, G. E. (2016). Progressive museum practice: John Dewey and democracy. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Humphrey, T., & Gutwill, J. (Eds.). (2005). Fostering active prolonged engagement. The art of creating APE exhibits. San Francisco: The Exploratorium.Google Scholar
  21. James, W. (2003). Essays in radical empiricism. New York: Dover.Google Scholar
  22. Johnson, M. (2007). The meaning of the body. Aesthetics of human understanding. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Koskinen, I., Zimmerman, J., Binder, T., Redström, J., & Wensween, S. (2011). Design research through practice. From the lab, field and showroom. Waltham: Morgan Kaufmann.Google Scholar
  24. Kullman, K. (2013). Geographies of experiment / experimental geographies: A rough guide. Geography Compass, 7(12), 879–894.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Markopoulos, L., & McDougall, M. (Eds.). (2013). Over the water: Fujiko Nakaya. San Francisco: The Exploratorium.Google Scholar
  26. Massey, D. (2005). For space. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  27. Melles, G. (2008). An enlarged pragmatist inquiry paradigm for methodological pluralism in academic design research. Art, 2(1), 3–13.Google Scholar
  28. Murdoch, J. (2005). Poststructuralist geography. A guide to relational space. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  29. Rockwell, T. (2013). Over the water. In L. Markopoulos & M. McDougall (Eds.), Over the Water: Fujiko Nakaya (pp. 4–5). San Francisco: The Exploratorium.Google Scholar
  30. Rylander, A. (2012). Pragmatism and design research—An overview. The Swedish Faculty for Design Research and Research Education. Royal Institute of Technology. Accessed 20 Dec 2015.
  31. Semper, R. (2013) Preface. In Wilkinson, K. & Petrich, M. The Art of Tinkering (p. 10). San Francisco: Weldon Owen.Google Scholar
  32. Shapin, S. (2010). Uncle of the bomb. London Review of Books, 18(32), 12–14.Google Scholar
  33. Toon, R. (2005). Black box science in black box Centres. In S. MacLeod (Ed.), Reshaping museum space. Architecture, design, exhibitions (pp. 26–38). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  34. Verbeek, P.-P. (2011). Moralizing technology. Understanding and designing the morality of things. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Yaneva, A. (2009). Made by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture: An Ethnography of Design. Rotterdam: 101 Publishers.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

Personalised recommendations