In this Earth-like world, governments of several countries have decided to allow tourists to visit most of their secret research facilities in a similar way to what happened in Jurassic Park.

This time the visitors will not have the chance to be eaten by researched subjects. They will have guided tours through the laboratories (no touch and no interference policy strictly enforced by transparisteel) and they will be able to watch live demonstrations of the technologies being developed.

A few main reasons for the governments' decision were:

  1. direct funding from tourism;
  2. increase awareness of technological advancements with the ultimate goal of allowing joint researches with public institutes;
  3. increase researchers and possible test subjects recruitment;
  4. allow the general public and military to (re)gain confidence in the governments that manage these research facilities.

A few options have already been considered for the opening process:

  • send a few familiar/knowledgeable persons first and get their feedback (a.k.a. Jurassic Park style);
  • open them only to graduated scientific researchers;
  • entrance will only be given to those who scored over 70% on a specific psychological test.

Even with precautions like these, how could the related governments manage most of the direct and indirect consequences of opening these facilities to public?


What would be the most effective approach of launching these research facilities as tourists attractions and their consequences?

Update (2016-09-09)

I am revamping the question due to some points that may not have been sufficiently cleared out:

  • I used the sci-fi word transparisteel since I am not familiar of one-sided transparent metals capable of blocking explosions and various kinds of waves and radiation (as a sci-fi space-ship supposedly does).
  • Any visitor would need to sign an agreement which discloses that the tour guide management or the facility itself will not be held liable in case of death or injury inside the facility (if anyone manages to blow up something, it's not the management's fault).
  • Most researchers will not be aware of visitors passing by through the tunnels.
  • The tunnels will only pass through non-critical research operations rooms.
  • The way the research is shown to the visitor does not provide a chance of the research itself to be copied or reverse-engineered or to identify the researchers working on them (e.g. this transparisteel manages to blur out anything that may identify someone, similarly to Google Maps face blur).
  • Visitors will not be able to leave the tour tunnels (there is literally no access to the facility rooms, even to tour guides).
  • Different tours will require different sets of access permissions from the visitor which may depend on, for example, psychological test results, education level or simple monetary contributions (expensive tickets).
  • The rooms will present things that have never been seen before by the public (if you are having a hard time figuring out what is going to be shown, you can think of a live presentation of Nikolas Tesla's unknown technology).
  • Some of the rooms may display actors testing and presenting a relatively safe technology (or open rooms outside the facility may be created in order to perform shows where safe, known but rare technology is demonstrated to an audience).
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Roswell is already a tourist attraction. If the historic base were opened as a cold war museum, people would start showing up the next day. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 28 '16 at 5:19
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The question can't actually be answered without some idea of what the "direct and indirect consequences of opening these facilities to public" are, which depends on what's actually going on there in this setting. $\endgroup$ Aug 28 '16 at 5:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JDługosz. Most Roswell tourists are there for the UFOs. Few visit the Robert H Goddard museum at Roswell. Hardly anyone remembers Goddard conducted rocket trials at Roswell from 1930-1941. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Aug 28 '16 at 6:25
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    $\begingroup$ I think people would visit “area 51 now open to public!” having no prior idea that what they would really see is Blackbird, stealth tech, etc. in a history of the cold war museum. $\endgroup$
    – JDługosz
    Aug 28 '16 at 8:37
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Yes, it is :) $\endgroup$
    – Mithical
    Aug 28 '16 at 8:49

I think the only option is to open a science museum adjacent to the actual research facilities. It is staffed by actors playing scientists, or perhaps by second-rate scientists used as actors.

Real Science vs. Hollywood Science

A lot of tourists would be disappointed at what they see. There are a hundreds of failures for every spectacular success. And even a successful experiment might look like a failure because it is only designed to test a specific aspect of new technology. Or there is nothing to see except for tiny wiggles on a chart.

Unwanted Publicity

There will be foreign spies among the tourists. What will they learn from what they see? Among other things they will learn who your top researchers are and what they do.

Spies could then try to befriend the researchers in the hope of learning details. If the researches are told to be too wary about such things, the public relations effort might backfire.

Unwanted Distractions

Will the researchers be as productive as they are now when a new tour group gawks through the window every hour? What happens if a tour group passes by and the research team has a break with coffee and donuts. The tourists would be disappointed. So the project management will pressure the researchers to schedule their breaks according to the tour schedule, not at the best time for productivity.

No Haystack to Hide Needles

Imagine they have some research projects that really have to stay secret. Enemy agents would have to take note which buildings don't offer tours, and keep track who goes in and out.

  • $\begingroup$ I was on the tour in research nuclear reactor. You're right, for someone that's not from the field, there are only one or two flashy bits, rest is boring as hell. And whilst instructing and entertaining students who may work there in few years may be fun (we understood their jokes), finding something fit for general public would be hard. $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Aug 28 '16 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ I think the Real Science vs. Hollywood Science is the major part to this answer. How many people even read scientific journals, even in fields of interest to them? In those, you will find what turned out to be interesting or novel results. Particularly if doing something new or largely unknown, there will likely be many uninteresting, boring or outright failed experiments before one gets to that point. And a huge chunk of scientific work is data collection and analysis; how interesting would it be to see someone sitting in front of Excel, or a text editor, doing numerical analysis work? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Aug 28 '16 at 8:43
  • $\begingroup$ Excellent answer, and this is how it usually happens in real life when people are given admittance to facilities on "the bleeding edge" of technology and science. You have a Visitors' Center while the actual work-places are kept out of sight and out of access to the pleb. This is for two reasons: 1) You don't want the visitors messing about with the work. and 2) Because such work is usually quite boring and not very glamorous. Obligatory and kind-of-related xkcd: xkcd.com/683 $\endgroup$
    – MichaelK
    Aug 28 '16 at 10:22
  • $\begingroup$ In many cases you could not give the general public any access to the workplace because it is dangerous. This applies to mundane things like rubbish incinerators or building sites, not just high tech like nuclear reactors or microbiological research. Visitor centre it has to be. $\endgroup$
    – nigel222
    Aug 29 '16 at 12:19

If the General population is allowed and also earth-like, be prepared to execute damage control due to well-meaning but inadequately educated or informed citizens with anti-research based fears. This may be costly and reduce/eliminate the tourism benefit.

If any of the research subjects involve living beings, consider the subjects themselves reacting negatively to being treated as tourist attractions.

Be aware of the condition that the result of any experiment is affected by the observers, whether the observer is the research staff or the tourist.


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