Our visitors are the heart of the Copernicus Science Centre. We are honoured by the trust you have bestowed upon us. You are the reason we are improving our exhibitions, designing new exhibits and rearranging the spaces. The first five years of operations of the Copernicus Science Centre (2010-2015) were a time of intensive learning. We could analyse how our ideas worked out in practice and how we needed to answer the new emerging needs. In 2015, made richer by our experiences, we began the process of changing the exhibition spaces and the exhibits, which was spread out over several years.
In the meantime, we sought unconventional ideas, trained, tested new solutions on an on-going basis and worked closely with science centres across Europe and around the world. We opened new spaces: laboratories, the Robotic Theatre, the High Voltage Theatre, the Thinkatorium, the rooftop garden and the Wytwórnia FabLab. We introduced new elements to our offer: scientific demonstrations, workshops in the exhibition space and concerts at the planetarium. Our first priority was to ensure optimal touring comfort for our guests and to create an environment conducive to learning and acquiring new skills. We asked our visitors, evaluated the exhibitions and the organisation of the space.
When we opened the doors to the Copernicus Science Centre for the first time, we did not expect such a success in terms of attendance. It is a phenomenon on a global scale. It surprised not only us, but the entire community of science centres around the world. Our Centre managed to attract more than a million visitors annually – three times more than our most optimistic forecasts! This proves both the value of science and the enormous potential and aspirations of our visitors. The Copernicus Science Centre took great care to understand its visitors. We analysed not only their socio-demographic characteristics, but also took into account all the comments and feedback offered to us. Looking at the passions and aspirations of our visitors, we identified certain needs. We have prepared ourselves well to respond to them, implementing changes in our exhibitions and in other areas.
We evaluated out exhibitions in detail. We wanted to know what would make future visitors to the Copernicus Science Centre want to visit them, how our visitors use the exhibits, what touring the exhibitions gives them, what needs it fulfils and what is still missing. Which exhibits are particularly liked and why? What makes people want to come back? These observations have led us to take concrete action. We described the process of creating exhibitions, created a catalogue of best practices and recommendations for creators of new exhibitions. In the first five years, we gained experience in designing and building the best exhibits, and we took advantage of this experience by analysing the existing ones, applying newly developed measures to them. We checked to what extent they would realise the objectives we wanted to achieve. We have identified which exhibits fit our new approach and which needed to be replaced or substantially changed.
At the same time, we took a closer look at our spaces, not only those for exhibitions, but also those that serve the comfort of visitors – from entrance and relaxation areas and ticket desks, to the visual information system intended to facilitate spatial orientation. We were aware that a building designed to accommodate 300,000 people annually could have some shortcomings with more than a million guests visiting us every year. We diagnosed these problems and consulted the best architects on how to solve them. Together with the designers, we also planned visual changes that significantly influenced the impressions of a visit to the Centre. Making the space uniform allows for deeper reflection and fuller interaction with the exhibit.