Questacon’s 25th anniversary celebrations continued in March with a dinner to recognise the Australia–Japan relationship and honour Japan’s contribution to the founding of Questacon. The generous Bicentennial gift from the Japanese Government and Keidanren (Japanese Business Federation) of one billion yen to the people and Government of Australia supported half the cost of the Questacon building.
The anniversary event was held at Questacon, with one gallery completely transformed to accommodate the dinner whilst still retaining some of the interactive exhibits. In true Questacon style, guests were able to interact with a few exhibits before entering the gallery. Once seated, guests were encouraged to continue experimenting with the table centrepieces, creating beautiful swirling patterns in petri dishes containing milk, detergent and food colouring.
Guests at the Anniversary Dinner included the Keidanren Chairman and 25 members, His Excellency Mr Yoshitaka Akimoto, Ambassador of Japan to Australia, and the Hon Ian Macfalane MP, Minister for Industry.
Chairman of Questacon’s Advisory Council, Mr Leon Kempler OAM, jointly emceed the evening with Peter Yates AM, member of the Australia-Japan Foundation and Deputy Chairman of the Myer Family Company. Keynote speakers on the night included Minister Macfarlane who spoke of Questacon’s past, achievements and ongoing friendship with the Japan National Museum of Nature and Science and Miraikan, the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation. The Japanese Ambassador also spoke warmly of the relationship between Questacon and Japan.
Questacon Director Professor Graham Durant and Mr Isao Yamasaki, Head Science Communicator of Miraikan, introduced Questacon’s upcoming 2014 Science Circus tour to Japan. The tour will begin in April in Tokyo with an opening ceremony, and then will visit four tsunami-recovering communities in north eastern Japan. In each location, the team of Japanese and Australian science communicators will deliver engaging science shows in Japanese elementary schools within each community and host a free public exhibition on weekends, featuring the portable science exhibits from the Shell Questacon Science Circus. These exhibits will be gifted to Japan at the conclusion of the tour. More information about the Science Circus Japan tour is available here.
The tour was introduced at the Anniversary dinner, with three of the science communicators staffing the tour, Mr Yamasaki from Miraikan, Ms Renae Sayers from Scitech, Perth and Mr Patrick Helean from Questacon presenting simple yet effective science demonstrations to guests.
Questacon’s success over the past 25 years would not have been possible without the generous support of the Japanese Government and Keidanren community. During the dinner, Minister Macfarlane presented a gift to the Keidanren as a token of friendship and gratitude. The gift was a marquetry artwork by Australian woodwork artist Michael Retter OAM, featuring an optical illusion created by Japanese psychology professor, Professor Akiyoshi Kitaoka.
Whilst the Anniversary dinner was an opportunity to reflect on Questacon’s foundation and successes as Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre, it was also a time for looking to the future and the next 25 years of engaging people locally, nationally and internationally with science.