Public spaces, like visitors centres or museums, often are the interface between cutting-edge research and technology and the public and local communities. They provide interaction between astronomy research and the public. A current challenge of these learning spaces is how they showcase modern astronomy in physical spaces when astronomy observations are becoming more automated, remote and distributed. This small workshop will explore the different aspects of a visitor experience in science learning spaces, like Astronomy Museums, Planetariums, Visitor Centres & Public Observatories. This symposium is a follow-up of the NAOJ Museum Symposium held in Tokyo, Japan in 2015.


  • Best practices in informal learning spaces for astronomy
  • Science communication and informal learning methods in astronomy visitor spaces.
  • Challenges regarding establishing and managing Astronomy Museums, Planetariums, Visitor Centres & Public Observatories.
  • Development and Implementation of Public Programmes, Activities and Volunteer programmes.
  • Strategic planning, funding, fund-raising, pricing, and marketing issues.
  • Role of special programs, special exhibits, and special events.
  • The role of learning spaces in the local communities.
  • Career development of staff and volunteers.
  • The role of research astronomers (from students to faculty) and amateur astronomers.
  • Opportunities for future international cooperation.
  • Download the poster.


    Wednesday, 27 September

    Location:Leiden Observatory (City Centre)

    15:00 – 16:30
    • Welcome by Hidehiko Agata and Pedro Russo (SOC Co-chairs)
    • Designing a Visitor Experience by Eisuke Tachikawa (NOSIGNER, Japan)
    16:00 – 17:30
    • An attempt at realizing an astronomical museum at the Bosscha Observatory by Yulianty Yatny (Bosscha Observatory, Indonesia)
    • Leiden Observatory: A new visitor experience by Lieke van Son (Leiden University, the Netherlands)
    • The New Boerhaave Museum by Dirk van Delft (Boerhaave Museum, the Netherlands)
    17:30 – 18:30
    • Observatory Tour by Leiden Astronomy Students

    Thursday, 28 September

    Location: Faculty of Science (Gorleaus Building, Meeting room LMUY 04.28)

    9:30 – 10:45
    • The Royal Observatory Greenwich Visitor Experience by Elizabeth Avery (Royal Observatory Greenwich, UK)
    • New Vision for a Grand Old Institution- Past, Present & Future of Lowell Observatory, USA by Ian C. McLennan (Planetarium Consultant, Vancouver, Canada)
    10:45 – 11:15
    • The South African Astronomical Observatory Visitor Centre at Sutherland by Sivuyile Manxoyi (SAAO,  South Africa)
    • ESO Supernova beyond the Planetarium by Tania Johnston (ESO Supernova)
    11:15 – 12:30
    • The role of students and volunteers in visitor experiences at the Lisbon Observatory by João Retrê (IAstro, Portugal)
    • Strategies for Increasing Visitation to Professional Observatories at NOAO in Chile and the United States by Stephen Pompea, Leonor Opazo and William Buckingham (NOAO, USA)
    • Inclusivity at NAOJ Mitaka Visitors' Area by Kumiko Usuda-Sato (NAOJ, Japan)
    12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
    13:30 – 15:00
    • How can 'citizen science' be used in astronomy exhibits? by Nicole Shearer (European Space Agency, NL)
    • Multimodal metaphors in science communication by Jan Swierkowski (Universidade Catolica Portuguesa/Institute B61, Portugal/Poland)
    • Open Science Hub Network: Lessons from the First Open Science Centre by Maria Vicente (Leiden University, the Netherlands / Municipality of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo, Portugal)
    • Raumschiff – the Maker Space for Astronomy by Hanna Sathiapal (FLARECAST)
    • Effective understanding of astrophysics through direct experiences of stellar spectra seen by large telescopes at public observatories by Osamu Hashimoto (Gunma Astronomical Observatory, Japan)
    15:00 – 15:30
      Coffee Break
    15:30 – 17:00
    • Running a Public Programme with Volunteers on a Historical Observatory by Johan Kuilenburg (Museum Boerhaave, the Netherlands)
    • Best practices in visitors experience design at observatories by Pablo Alvarez (Verde Ltda., Chile)
    • Technology, Science and People: telling the story of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh by Fiona Ross Royal Observatory Edinburgh
    • Accessing the inaccessible: Using VR for science by Mathieu Isidro (SKA Organisation)
    • Making Astronomy Museums Relevant by Hannah Harris (Wellesley College, USA / Leiden University, NL)
    19:00 Workshop Dinner at restaurant Oudt Leyden (City Centre)

    Friday, 29 September

    Location: Faculty of Science (Gorleaus Building, Meeting room LMUY 04.28)

    9:30 – 10:45
    • Designing On-line & Physical Multimedia Experiences by Jan Pomierny (Associate Studio Director at Fish Ladder / Platige Image + CEO at Science Now)
    10:45 – 11:15
    • Informal Science Education in Learning Spaces by Anne Land (Leiden University, the Netherlands)
    11:15 – 12:00
    • The Outreach & Education Concepts and Strategy of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan by Hidehiko Agata (NAOJ, Japan )
    12:00 – 12:30
    • Closing Remarks by Hidehiko Agata and Pedro Russo (SOC Co-chairs)
    12:00 – 13:30 Lunch


    Scientific Organising Committee

    • Hidehiko Agata (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan) (Co-chair)
    • Pedro Russo (Leiden University, the Netherlands) (Co-chair)
    • Tania Johnston (ESO Supernova, Germany)
    • João Retrê (Institute of Astrophysics and Space Sciences, Portugal)
    • Stephen Pompea (National Optical Astronomy Observatory, USA)
    • Gustavo Rojas (UFSCar, Brazil)
    • Marek Kukula (Royal Observatory Greenwich Visitor Centre, UK)
    • Sivuyile Manxoyi (SAAO Sutherland Visitor Centre , South Africa)

    Local Organising Committee

    • Pedro Russo
    • Naor Scheinowitz
    • Lieke van Son

    Registration & Participants

    The registration fee is 150 EUR (including workshop dinner). We are limited to maximum 40 participants and will allocate spaces on a first-come, first-served basis. It is expected that participants will actively contribute to the workshop and sessions over the 3 days. The language of the workshop will be in English. You can register and submit your abstract here. Please pay your registration here.

    Travel Information



    If you need an official invitation in order to obtain a VISA, please contact Jorge Rivero at

    How to reach Leiden and the Leiden Observatory

    This is the Leiden Observatory ("Sterrewacht") located in the centre of town. For directions to Leiden Observatory follow the directions here.


  • Hotels in Leiden
  • Bed&Breakfasts
  • AirBnB
    Some suggestions:
  • Hotel Ibis (20 min walk to Leiden Observatory)
  • Hotel Golden Tulip (20 min walk to Leiden Observatory)
  • Residence 102 (15 min walk to Leiden Observatory)
  • Huys van Leyden (15 min walk to Leiden Observatory)
  • Contact

    For more information, please contact:
    Pedro Russo (Leiden University)
    SOC Co-Chair
    Tel.: +31 71 527 5841

    Organised by