June 29, 2017
I’ve seen some truly disastrous uses of technology in museums — outdated intro videos clearly made in the late 80’s, push-buttons that don’t work, poorly timed motion-sensor-activated audio, and ‘out of service’ interactives. But a few years ago I saw a use of technology that absolutely blew me away.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Back in 2015, I visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science where they were hosting a traveling exhibition, The Power of Poison. The exhibition took me on an thrilling and whimsical adventure as I learned about the role of poison in nature, human health, history, literature, and myth. The exhibit had real poison frogs, larger-than-life dioramas, and interactives that all ages could enjoy. But the Enchanted Spell Book was by far the highlight of the exhibition and was one of the most well-done uses of technology in a museum I’ve ever seen.
“In nature, countless plants and animals rely on poison to survive. Poisons also have a powerful grip on the human imagination — poisoned drinks, clothes and foods appear in stories throughout the centuries. And increasingly we are learning how poisons can be powerful stories of healing.”
As I approached the ancient-looking enormous book, it suddenly “came to life” — animated plants wiggled as I touched them on the page, animals hopped, animated videos began, and words appeared and disappeared as I hovered my hand over them. It. Was. Magical. As I turned the giant page (its texture reminded me of old parchment), a new set of interactive animations just as thrilling as the last appeared. I could have played with that book for hours. And I would have, if there wasn’t a line forming behind me.
Did you know?
This was by far the most impressive use of technology I’ve seen in a museum so far. Not only was it fun and magical-feeling, I actually learned something! Did you know that wolfsbane isn’t just a potion ingredient in Harry Potter? It’s a real plant commonly called Monkshood and if eaten, it can cause a fatal heart attack!
Silver Oaks Loves Technology AND Museums!
At Silver Oaks, it’s my job to recognize great uses of technology in museums. We’re constantly trying to implement new, creative and engaging media like this. Well-made interactives can transport visitors through time and space — real and fantasy. The fact that I get to help people have experiences like that is incredibly rewarding.
For a glimpse at the Enchanted Spell Book, here’s a digital version. Enjoy!