The role of science museums in science education is changing. This article examines the science museum literature in light of the new emphasis for museums to become a unique partner with schools and colleges to enhance science literacy. Museums provide opportunities for students to be active participants in learning by manipulating real objects in a stimulating setting thus enhancing conceptual learning in the classroom. Both components of learning are important for understanding of complex science concepts. Much of the literature pertaining to learning in museums is anecdotal and craft wisdom, indicating that more collaborative research efforts are needed in the area of science education in museum settings. © 1994 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.