This issue of Museums & Social Issues explores the role of science and science museums in the civic life in our communities and nation. Museums, especially science-related museums, have traditionally sought to enlighten their communities with the knowledge and narratives the museums gathered. Even as science museums have become more willing to share power with their audiences, they have participated in their communities as educators, akin to schools or universities in purpose if not technique. While some museums addressed social issues previously, only in the last ten years or so have mainstream science museums, science centers, natural history museums, zoos, aquaria, and other informal science institutions (ISIs) begun to explore civic and political issues with their communities. As this trend gathers momentum it has the potential to fundamentally shift the focus and role of ISIs and their relationship to their communities.