Welcome to the first in a travel series detailing the museums I’ve visited. Meaning that when I am lucky enough to get to visit a museum, I’ll write about it here. And spoiler alert, The MIT Museum boggled my mind in the best way possible.
Have you ever made a sandwich with a robot? Or written a poem with the help of Artificial Intelligence? Or watched a deep-fake broadcast of former President Richard Nixon speaking to the nation as if Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren died on the moon? Don’t worry, I hadn’t until I visited the MIT Museum in Cambridge, MA over Christmas break–a mind-bending walk through the latest technological advances in robotics, AI, gene-editing, and so much more–told through the lens of MIT scientists and researchers. This. Museum. Is. Nuts. And to think–my husband and I visited on a whim because the Gardner museum didn’t have tickets on the day we happened to be in Boston.
What I love about this museum is its timeliness and relevance to our lived experience as human beings existing at a time of lightening-fast innovation. Even as someone who spends a lot of time reading the news, I can’t keep up with the daily discoveries happening in the fields of planetary science or fertility medicine. This museum does a great job at explaining these types of developments while making the material feel indispensable to having an understanding of the modern world we live in.
According to its website, the museum has existed for some time, but re-opened in September 2022 at its new location in Kendall Square next to the MIT campus. The museum has three floors of exhibit space.
One of my favorite exhibits was the gene-editing simulation, which let me simulate how editing a mosquito population can help public health workers eradicate diseases like malaria.
The only downside? The museum’s ticket price. The admission fee for adults is $18, which isn’t bad. But I live near Washington, D.C., where the Smithsonian museums are free. So I am accustomed to free.
Another downside is the realization that AI is quickly coming after my job. But it’s coming after your job, too. And the least we can do is wrap our heads around it.
Museum: The MIT Museum
Location: 314 Main Street in Cambridge, MA
Cost: Adults $18
Time to take it in: I’d budget up to 3 hours to absorb the material. This should give you enough time to see the museum top-to-bottom and not feel like you missed anything.
Bottom Line: This museum is a must-see. Go without hesitation–and bring your kids older than 10. Younger children might not understand some of the more sophisticated material–especially related to the ethical dilemmas at stake with the new technologies. But keep in mind, most of the exhibits are interactive.
To learn more about the MIT Museum, check out this PBS News Hour story, which gives a great overview of the exhibits.
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