“I never did a day’s work in my life. It was all fun.” Thomas Edison
Media at its best has the ability to immerse us, interpret complex processes and make deep personal connections. The experiential media shown here present a range of ways innovative thinking has enabled our exhibitions to surprise, inspire, delight and move visitors of all ages.
Denver Museum of Nature & Science
For an exhibition focusing on the biology of health that the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) wanted to be certain had high appeal for their region’s Rocky Mountain community, we developed an experience concept grounded in an expedition up one of Colorado’s famed “14ers”—peaks over 14,000 feet. As a key part of the concept, a dozen participants would be selected to be trained and make the trek up Mt. Evans, an impressive peak in view of the museum. Their experiences, documented on film, in photographs and on-camera interviews, would become a cornerstone of a media-intensive exhibition in which museum visitors begin their own journey by selecting an expedition “buddy” as a virtual learning companion. DMNS embraced the authenticity of the concept and took on one of the most challenging aspects of the project: selecting the dozen buddies from a pool of 500 applicants, developing their training in both high-altitude biology and trekking, and managing the expedition.
At the exhibition entry, a diverse group of buddies from age 10 to “retiree” present visitors with a choice of virtual learning companions. Since each buddy has their own experiences and insights, returning visitors—of which there are a great number—can have a varied exhibition experience by selecting a different buddy each time.
After a summer of participating in training programs in biology and trekking, twelve buddies and a film crew set out on a 2-day expedition up Mt. Evans. Their new knowledge and experience at high elevation provide the authenticity needed to be effective virtual learning companions in Expedition Health.
Nine interactive stations at the gallery entry facilitate quick and easy sign-in and buddy selection. Once signed in, Peak Pass swipe cards activate selected exhibits and allow visitors’ personal images and outcomes to be stored in a database and printed on a take-away Personal Profile at the gallery exit.
Several components provide visitors with an opportunity to measure biological change in their own bodies over a period of a few minutes. At this Wind Chill chamber, a young girl observes the falling temperature of her hand graphed out in real-time, while her expedition buddy, Alexis, explains what is happening to her blood vessels and blood flow as the temperature drops.
Buddies are also the friendly facilitators of the Hungry Hiker game, an activity in which visitors are asked by their buddies to help them reach the top of Mt. Evans by building a nutritious, balanced meal. Because players have signed in with their names at the beginning of the exhibition, their buddies can thank them personally at the end of this popular game.
Visitors interact with a second layer of highly engaging media in Expedition Health’s BodyTrek Theater. In this 18-minute show, an experienced mountain guide takes audiences on a trek to the top of Mt. Evans in a participatory, sensory-rich object theater experience that reinforces the big idea of the exhibition—“your body changes in ways you can see, measure and optimize”—and is especially focused on demonstrating the biological basis of change.
The BodyTrek show was developed in collaboration with producers at Science North in Sudbury, Ontario, and DMNS. Popular with audiences of all ages, sensors that measure your blood oxygen level and special effects — even a snowstorm – leave an indelible impression and encourage repeat visitation.
At Sign-Out, visitors recycle their Peak Pass cards, trading them in for an instantly-printed Peak Pass Personal Profile. Family members’ first response is to compare and talk over the results of this highly personalized souvenir of their visit.