“Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.” – Albert Einstein
For Greg Viggiano, Executive Director of the Museum of Science Fiction (MOSF), these words are the cornerstone for his work in empowering today’s youth to be the pioneers of tomorrow.
The importance of STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) has grown exponentially in the past decade with our need for more advanced solutions to the world’s growing problems. It is Viggiano’s belief that MOSF will spark the imagination of next-generation thinkers to help make science-fiction a science-fact. The museum, still in its early stages, is working dutifully towards securing a physical home for their enriching programs.
The mission of the Museum of Science Fiction is to create a center of gravity where art and science are powered by imagination. Science fiction is the story of humanity: who we were, who we are and who we dream to be. The Museum will present this story through displays, interactivity and programs in ways that excite, educate, entertain and create a new generation of dreamers.
Imagine a museum where you and your kids can take control of a star fighter navigating a deadly asteroid field or walk among the alien flora and fauna of a far-distant planet, entirely different from our own. How about a catalog of science fiction’s greatest technologies, where you can envision and develop your own energy-based tools and time-traveling devices? These are the kinds of exhibits that MOSF hopes to bring to life when the museum finds a permanent home.
MOSF began in 2013 with a team of 38 volunteers working to make the museum a reality. Today, there are over 120 team members made up of industry professionals with backgrounds ranging from NASA to Hollywood. Though there have been science fiction exhibits prominently featured in various museums in the past, no other organization has sought to dedicate an entirely curated facility to the world (or worlds rather) of speculative fiction.
The Museum of Science Fiction will be the world’s first comprehensive science fiction museum, covering the history of the genre across the arts and providing a narrative on its relationship to the real world.
It is the goal of the museum to eventually house seven indefinite galleries. Viggiano says, “It is designed to celebrate and encourage the very human tendency to always ask: ‘What if?'” These galleries will begin with The Creators of science fiction themselves, the storytellers and artists who first posed that indelible “What if?” to the world. From there, visitors will travel to the unfamiliar (and often too familiar) Other Worlds, perhaps aboard an advanced spaceship in the Vehicles gallery or via an inter-dimensional device in the Time Travels wing. You’ll be amazed by the strange life forms encountered in Aliens, Creatures and Altered Life and wishing you had a pet automaton after leaving Computers and Robots. Lastly, you’ll explore the blurring relationship between fantasy and science fiction when it comes to the sufficiently advanced creations in the Technology gallery.
Educational development is paramount to MOSF and it is the museum’s belief that by stimulating children’s imaginations, they will be encouraged to explore the fields of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.
The Museum’s educational mission is to share and use science fiction as a way to inspire imagination and motivate learning in science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.
This is the main objective of MOSF’s pilot program with DC Public Schools, where industry professionals, such as NASA Goddard’s Dr. C. Alex Young, teach project-based learning opportunities that engage students in critical thinking and challenge their views of science fiction using STEAM programming. Over the next five years, the museum aims to develop additional project-based learning activities in and out of schools, an online resource center for educators and students, scholarships and grants, competitions and contests in the STEAM fields and educational exhibitions with high levels of interaction.
Since 2016, the museum has been providing an inclusive, interactive environment for children and adults to explore the world of science fiction while promoting STEAM education through Escape Velocity. It’s part comic-and-gaming convention, part educational programming and 100 percent imagination-inducing fun. This past May’s Escape Velocity convention, hosted at the Gaylord National, provided over 300 hours of educational opportunities, including film and writing workshops, coding workshops, virtual reality demos, table-top gaming sessions and movie screenings.
The next steps for the Museum of Science Fiction is to construct a Preview Museum in Northern Virginia, a modular space where Greg and his team can test exhibition ideas and receive real-time feedback from guests to improve, and hopefully exceed, visitor’s expectations. The Preview Museum aims to be portable, with plans to tour other U.S. cities and build awareness of the museum while MOSF continues to build a full-scale home here in Washington, D.C., expected to open in the next 24-36 months.
If you’re interested in learning more or contributing to the Museum of Science Fiction and the Escape Velocity fair, and to help cultivate STEAM learning through imagination and storytelling, visit museumofsciencefiction.org.