Design considerations for a Science Museum

How to design a Science Museum?

The design of a museum depends on the kind of exhibits. Galleries for the exhibits must be designed suitably. In a science museum the basic exhibition galleries that you can target are:

  • History of science in India
  • Human Biology
  • Prehistoric Life
  • Fun Science
  • Space Science
  • Emerging Technologies

The aim of designing a science museum should be to:

  • Teach children science in an interesting and practical way
  • Divide the exhibits in proper sections so that people can view the desired sections with ease.
  • Presenting and displaying information in a way that helps people understand what the exhibits are all about.
  • Design the museum in such a way that it becomes a learning/discussion centre for people in the city who are interested in science
  • You can also conduct special lectures/presentations on a periodical basis

 The spaces in a science museum can be divided as:

  • Exhibition Galleries & Exhibit storage areas
  • Administration Areas
  • Non Museum Spaces
  • Supporting services
East Hall Science Museum
East Hall Science Museum

Admin areas in the Museum

The purpose of creating a museum is to give the visitors a feel of the world of science.  Therefore the journey of a visitor through the museum should be continuous and undisturbed by spaces that distract a person from the exhibits. Thus, the administration area should be removed from the exhibition gallery areas and should be located in a secluded space away from the crowd. The people working in the offices should be able to access their work area directly without facing the necessity of going through the museum galleries.

Admin spaces include:

  • Offices for the CEO, Secretary, Curator,
  • General Staff working areas
  • Pantry
  • Toilets
  • Lunch room
  • Conference room
  • VIP rooms/guest rooms for visiting scientists

The Birla science museum lacks a properly organized administration area. The offices are situated on the second floor near the exhibition galleries. It causes disturbance to the employees.

Supporting services

Supporting services in a museum can be analyzed under the following heads:

  • Parking
  • Staircases/elevators/escalators
  • Fire services
  • Storage
  • Water supply and sanitation
  • Security & Alarm systems
  • Air conditioning

Parking facilities

Birla Science Museum has a visiting crowd of 2000 people on weekdays and 5000 people on weekends and other holidays. On an average, 90% of the visitors are students and most of the visitors are non-locals who come to the museum as a tourist destination.

Thus the parking area should have facilities for school buses and tourist buses. Ample 4-wheeler and 2- wheeler parking should also be provided.

As per the statistics of case study:

Museum timings: 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Total working hours: 8 hours

No. of visitors per day: 2000-5000

No. of visitors per hour: 250-1250

Keeping in mind that 90% of the visitors are students, parking facilities should include:

  • 8 buses (320 visitors)
  • 60 cars (300 persons)
  • 200 two wheelers (600 visitors)

TOTAL: 1220 visitors at a time

Additional Parking facilities should include parking for staff and VIPs. The Birla Science museum provides parking for 6 buses, 30 cars and 200 two wheelers which is insufficient for the visitors.


The science museum has 2 staircases and 1 fire exit. It has a 4’ x 4’ elevator for handicapped persons and no escalators.

As per norms, every building should have a staircase at a distance of every 75’-0”. In addition to the normal staircases and lifts, it should have at least one additional fire escape lift and staircase conforming to the NBC norms.

Ample number of lifts should be provided for all the visitors and a special service life should be provided for carrying the museum exhibits to the upper floors.

Fire fighting services

A special fire exit route with staircase and lift should be provided. Smoke detectors and fire extinguishers should be provided at appropriate distances,


Storage rooms in a museum are high security areas that are accessible to only a few staff members. The Birla Science museum has strong rooms on every floor made of concrete with special Godrej doors. Storage spaces in a museum are used for storing exhibits that are not on display all year round, for repairing damaged exhibits and storing exhibits temporarily before putting on display.

Water Supply and Sanitation

The Birla Science museum has two water tanks each of 70,000 litres capacity. The overhead tank has a capacity of 10,000 litres. Water supply is different for drinking and gardening purposes. The museum used to have a septic tank but currently the septic tank is not in use and the waste water is directly empties into the main sewer pipeline.

Security and Alarm systems

Security in a science museum is not of great importance as most of the exhibits are only models or photographic displays. However since it is a place of public importance thus basic security systems such as intruder alarms, surveillance cameras and other anti theft devices need to be provided.

Air conditioning

Air conditioning may be provided in a museum if desired. However natural ventilation is the best option since security is not an issue. Avoiding air conditioning will provide environmental benefits. However the museum may need to have certain air conditioned zones where exact temperatures need to be maintained for exhibits. The Birla science museum has air conditioning only in the doll house where an exact temperature of 300C needs to be maintained for the ivory dolls.

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