Beyond Perception Exhibition
- Museums Victoria
Our brief for Beyond Perception was to build a STEM focussed, long-term exhibition for 13-15 year olds at our Scienceworks museum, with principal aims of sparking curiosity, raising questions, and inspiring audiences with the beauty and complexity of science. The project was part of a major transformative renewal program, taking 2½ years in development. The exhibition was to be cutting edge, contemporary and unconventional, to contribute to a change in perception about Scienceworks from being a place for families, to being a place for everyone, and was to especially inspire teenagers to visit outside of traditional school excursions.
A ribbon of science exploration in the form of animated and hand drawn scribbles is woven throughout the experiences and offers a new interpretive style specifically tailored to a teenage audience. All the immersive experiences are underpinned by real world content – coming from the remarkable edge of science research from institutions across Victoria, including our own Museums Victoria research scientists. The experiences are presented as open ended moments of creative discovery, moments of reflection, and moments of mind bending wonder, presented in unusual or unexpected forms, to amaze and inspire the target audience.
The exhibition opened in May 2018 and formal evaluation is in progress but the anecdotal feedback to date from visitors, key stakeholders, and most importantly from teenagers, has been incredibly positive. Visitors have relished the reflective and ponderous speed of the exhibition, allowing them and their families to consider the questions posed within the exhibition and to hear from real scientists. The design led experience is inspiring visitors to see the beauty of science and to behave in a more contemplative and curious manner. There are no instructions for the interactive installations, it’s intuitive and self-guided.
We worked closely with the key audience to understand the types of experiences that would appeal. It was important to use a strong cohesive approach to palette and form to deliver a mature, contemporary and immersive environment, tailored for 13-15 year olds and beyond. The experiences bring together physical and digital interaction and displays seamlessly from reactive stretchy touchscreens to carved wooden rotary encoders. They are all unique, and designed to be unexpected, striking and open ended. Working with composers and coders we developed a rich, ambient soundscape that combines pre-recorded sounds, with self-generative audio that will never repeat itself.
Unlike anything Scienceworks has done before, visitors can bend the fabric of spacetime with a stretchy touchable surface, immerse themselves in the 3D audiovisual experience of the cacophony, experience the unpredictability of turbulence and create their own projection mapping artwork that reacts to the generative soundscape. They can create turbulent storms and curtains of mist, they can hear sound with their bodies and get lost in a maze of amazing scientific imagery. Everything is social, non-linear, and self-guided. Designed to appeal to the sense of agency that appeals to teenagers sharp and curious minds.