Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Reader 1

Jeffrey Lewis


Chapter I will examine the history of science museums, from their origins in European curiosity cabinets and private collections to their establishment in American society, paying particular attention to trends in the purpose of these organizations throughout time. Then, a closer look at modern American science museums is taken. A key tool for this section is an examination of current mission statements of the top science centers in the US. Finally, three main problems facing today’s science museums are investigated: a current lack of diversity in the educational perspective present in science museums, inconsistency in the communication of the scientific process, and overall public disengagement with these centers. In order to find a solution to these issues, chapter II delves into humor research. First, the psychological and sociological dimensions of humor are defined. Then, humor is applied to education, showing that it increases teacher-student bonds, information retention, and student engagement. Next, humor is connected to successful internal management and external messaging of professional organizations. After, humor’s effect on advertising campaigns, television shows, and various forms of media that seek to hold the attention of their audience is overviewed. With an understanding of the obstacles today’s science museums must overcome and of the multidimensional benefits of humor use, chapter III considers how humor could be used in a museum setting, addresses the potential negative ramifications of improper humor, and ultimately argues why humor should be utilized in this context. Specifically, chapter III contends that humor could be an effective agent in increasing diversity, the accuracy of scientific process explanations, and engagement for the modern science museum.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.