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Mikko Myllykoski

Mikko Markus Myllykoski
Born December 25, 1963, Vammala

Bachelor of arts 1993, Master of Arts 1998 (general history), University of Helsinki
Doctoral student of art history 2012–, University of Helsinki

Experience Director 2002–, Heureka Science Centre
Head of design 1999–2002, senior designer 1994–99 and designer 1990–94, Heureka Science Centre
University of Helsinki history project research assistant 1990

President of the Finnish Association of Science Editors and Journalists (FASEJ) 2015–
President of the Società Dante Alighieri (comitato di Helsinki) 2008–12
President of the Finnish Inter Press Service 1994–2000

Research themes:
Travel-literature themed Master’s thesis on Mrs Alec Tweedie’s 1896 Finnish travelogue
Doctoral dissertation (in progress) on the exhibition Dialogue in the Dark as a radical social innovator

State Award for Public Information for the exhibition Nordic Explorers 1997 (together with Jouko Koskinen)

Recognition for Heureka Science Centre exhibitions:
Employer of the month award from the Ministry of Labour for recruiting 45 visually-impaired guides for the exhibition Dialogue in the Dark

Association of Finnish Aviation Journalists Follow Me award for the exhibition Flight! 2003

Association of Science and Technology Centers’ Roy L.Shafer Leading Edge Award for Visitor Experience for the exhibition Heureka Goes Crazy 2014

Photo: Pinja Myllykoski
Written by
Mikko Myllykoski (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Global cooperation between science centres

Science is international. Following the principle of open access to science, even the ideas of science centres are disseminated globally. The founders of Heureka were following both European and North American examples, but when they decided a Finnish science centre must also produce exhibitions of its own they ensured that Heureka would also make its own significant international contribution. When Heureka was opened in 1989, there were about 400 science centres around the world, today they are approximately 3000.

Silpa Maria Pöntinen and I still debate this photo finish from our Sport exhibition (1993). Photo: Photo Finnish Camera.

The export of Heureka’s exhibitions began as a happy coincidence. In 1993 the Experimentarium science centre wanted to rent our exhibition Sport, or The Sweatiest Exhibition in Finland. We said yes, which resulted in an extensive learning experience: all the things that should have already been considered in the technical design stage of an exhibition if it was to be dismantled and reassembled in a different place with even a change of languages. Crossing cultural borders is a whole other issue: “How come everything seems to take place on a lake shore?” asked one incredulous translator of a multimedia show produced by Heureka. Still, this is one of our success stories. At Heureka, our exhibitions have been seen by 7.5 million visitors in 26 years (1989–2015), but at the same time, outside Heureka they have been viewed by an additional 17.5 million people, making a total of 25 million visitors. Sydney, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuwait City, Tel Aviv, México, Charlotte, NC, and Sudbury, Ontario are among the furthest our exhibitions have travelled.

There would be no export of exhibitions if Heureka didn’t actively share its knowledge with science centre networks. I’ve had the pleasure of working in both the European Network of Science Centres and Museums ECSITE and the North American based ASTC, on editorial boards and programme committees for the annual conferences, even as the chairman. These are excellent vantage points for viewing the latest trends in the fields of museums and science centres and interactive science communication. The conferences bring 1000–2000 professionals together every year to converse, debate, share best practices and consider what might be needed next.

Little did I know science communication would someday lead me to give PechaKucha presentations or do stand-up in a bar in Montreal, much less to be talked into dressing up as an Austrian! – Maarten Okkersen and Mikko Myllykoski competing over who could best market the 2016 science centre conference in Austria. Photo: Ian Brunswick.

International cooperation has also led to the co-production of exhibitions. Heureka Goes Crazy, To Risk Or Not To Risk? and Viral comprise a three-part series of exhibitions Heureka has produced together with Universcience (Paris) and Ciëncia Viva (Lisbon). Our consortium shares not only the costs of production but also ideas, and we act as sounding boards for each other.

Much of this cooperation – most of the contracts – occurs in English, but other languages and a desire to become better acquainted with other cultures are crucial in creating and maintaining a spirit of cooperation and in understanding nuances. Nordic Explorers (1996–1998) was the first exhibition project I led, and it was up to me to achieve productive cooperation with several Nordic museums and archives. If I hadn’t been ready, willing, and able to speak Swedish and understand other Scandinavian languages, we would have been much worse off in that regard.

Visiting museums is a pleasure even if you do it for a living. Musée Modern Museum, Brussels. In the background “Regard dedans (L'Heure bleu)”, 2013. Photo: Julia Myllykoski.


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