We all are familiar with microbes to some extent, albeit with a general notion that they are the bad guys that bring illness and disease which is a bit unfair given the countless beneficial microorganisms that we harbour in our own body and our environment. Could we change this (under-informed) public perception around microbes by establishing museums dedicated to microbes?
Well, in 2014 in Amsterdam Netherlands, with the aim of this exact paradigm-shift, one such museum was opened. Known as Micropia, this museum claims to be the first of its kind in the world, and houses more than 300 different microbial species cultured, curated and showcased on a routine basis. Taking inspiration from this example, I propose an idea of establishing a global (or at least a national-level) chain of such museums in every ecologically distinct part of the world.
What such a museum would do:
Source as many species of culturable microbes as possible from the ecological location (within its defined perimeter), culture them and preserve them in the specialized museum campus
Collaborate with local microbiologists and scientists to organise microbe watching ceremonies with an aim of educating people about the microbial role in the ecology and public health
Work as a repository of unique microbial signature of that geographical/ecological region
Collaborate with interested artists and designers to use these microbial cultures in the most aesthetically appealing manner
Such microbial museum would be the microbial equivalent to the conventional museums: just like the regular museums (and galleries) showcase the unique history, religious practices, traditions and lifestyles of given geographic and historical place (and time), the microbial museums would serve as the platform to showcase and preserve the microbial diversity, their beauty and the richness of the natural microscopic world. The reason I propose to establish a chain of such museums is that they would serve as the representatives of each ecological region (for the fact that different strains are prevalent in different ecological niches), all the while opening up really cool space where art and science can meet and flourish. In the future, I even envisage global/international events hosted by these museums and global agar-culture competitions!
What do you think of this idea? Could we really build such museums to appreciate the beauty and importance of our dear microscopic friends? Can you think of any innovative design components for such a facility?