Museum für Naturkunde

With interactive works by Art+com.

The first room is a big hall with three huge skeletons of dinosaurs. In two of the corners, facing each other, there’s binocular stations. When looking at the room through the binoculars you see the real skeletons, but pretty soon an animated layer is added to the picture, and the specific dinosaur that you point the binoculars towards comes alive. It’s heart, organs, tendons, muscles, flesh and skin is visualized in a layered animation, and the animal comes alive in a short 3D animated movie, where other members of the same species also appear in their natural surroundings. Each station consists of two binoculars and one screen showing the same small films of the three different species. Here you can choose between the three species with a physical arrow.

Very impressive, and definitely a good start of the experience. The relation between physical reality and animated story is very nicely executed, and the seams between the two appears very natural. The idea to add a virtual layer on the actual physical surroundings is outstanding, and here it works well. The personal experience is well sought for by the binoculars, and the installation also has a social dimension through the open screen. And to mention a detail, the binoculars are equipped with a vibrating feedback, that’s activated just when the animal comes alive, turns towards you and seem to notice your presence.

All around the museum are small stations with information. The displays are ca 80 x 30 cm, often placed two and two together. They have glass (plexi) on top as a cover for a graphically clean, backlit poster, and a metal housing in bottom and on the sides. They are placed in a height that makes them accessible for children and wheelchair users, and on the same time not hard to use from a grown-up’s standing perspective. They come either totally non-interactive with fixed info, or with an integrated screen or built in animation possibilities. The screen information can be controlled by pushing selected underlined words in the info text, this starts a small film about the chosen topic. Some of the displays has integrated levers that controlls animated information.

In the second room there’s a big globe, ca 3 meters in diameter, reaching almost from the floor to the ceiling, mounted on a pole, hoovering inbetween. The physical globe has a dividing axe in the middle of its body, where a big screen is allowed to rotate around it. When the screen slowly shifts its position it shows an animation of the countries it’s coverng on its way, zooms in and goes into depth of the info that’s connected to that specific place on the globe. In one of the positions the screen shows an animation of the world map, with all the worlds continents in different geological eras. The timeline and the animation has a really nice flow.

Good and natural mapping of virtual information placed on a physical shape. Impressive work, both when it comes to animation and physical execution. The monumental size fits the exhibition space, and the experience, very well.

“Hear” like a cave planthopper. The touchpad allows you to “hear” songs from three different lava tubes. When placing your hand on the spot you can feel vibrations in the same melodic rhythm as a faint sound, that you then become aware of has been there all the time. The vibrations seem to enhance your ability to hear the sound. Subtle and beautiful. Watch a movie of it here.

Circular film display. A round sofa placed in the next room, that has a surrounding staircase. The four floor high space in th middle is used as a small movie scene. The round screen is mounted in the top of the ceiling, and sowly descends towards the sofa when it’s time for a new show (a countdown for this is displayed on the screen itself). The theme of the film is about planets and space, and the nice thing is that this installation encourages you to lay down around the sofa, together with other visitors, and just look up at the “sky”, as if watching the stars, which you actually find yourself doing later when the film starts. You are supposed to be able to chose between english and german through buttons on the sofa, but I guess one of them is excluding the other and somebody picked german long before we arrived, cause the film is commented in german.

Listening stations. The graphical signs shows you to place your elbows at the marked areas, and place your hands around your ears. Standing like this in front of the bust of a famous man (Darwin, maybe? Lost track of both who he was and what he said cause the experience itself was so fascinating), you can hear him talk through the sound that’s spread from your elbows, up through your bones. This works remarkably well, and you don’t even have to connect the line via for example your cheek bones, the sound just appears inside the palms of your hands. A nice way of creating private space, or providing private information that’s not annoying for other visitors.

Interactive table with a touch screen that displays information about the tree of life and evolution. It displays basic information and questions for the visitor to answer about structures in basic species like starfish and lizards. The graphics grows out as a tree-inspired patterns when approaching, and the multi-touch screen can be controlled from at least three different points at once. Watch a video here. This one is nice but just slightly more impressive than the single information stations and not necessary more informative.

Built-in led displays in a wall at the very back of the stuffed animals section. This is not very technolgically advanced, but an interresting idea of a nice wrapping for displayed information.

Space music automat at the stairs – listen to music from well known composers pieces around a space theme. From Beethoven and Strauss to Star Wars. Nice idea, but totally strange design. The box is placed on the floor, and has two headsets placed in different height, but both of them too low for an upright standing person, and there’s no chairs around. Feels really strange to use just for that reason.

Local sound stations on the upper floor. Puffs to sit on with stands in the back equipped with speakers. The device works a bit like a sound shower. It’s sort of private, but still hearable for others standing around you.

Finally it’s appropriate to mention the big contrast between the old and the new part of the museum. After walking around amongst some very good, newly designed interactive elements, the old part with big stuffed animals, human skulls in monters and a collection of butterflies seems very out of date, and like a part of a totally different world, almost like another museum.

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Thomas var her, hehe.