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Modesty and trust get more important. We worked with Senckenberg Natural History Museum to enhance their exhibition “Faszination Vielfalt" (Fascination Variety and its focal point, a gigantic wall display cabinet presenting 1,138 geological and biological objects. In close cooperation with curator Thorolf Müller, we focused on developing a streamlined content management system to manage a wealth of extensive information and high-resolution photographs that were featured in three interactive media stations. While a clean and modest design was key for the two information stations, we also created an exciting educational game for younger age-groups.

Agile collection management

The Senckenberg Society has been conducting research for 200 years on the variety of animate and inanimate nature.

In the process, it has collected and conserved more than 40 million biological and geological objects spread over 11 locations in Germany. The anniversary exhibition presents a huge cross-section of this geobiodiversity research.

Preparing the exhibits for the photo shooting © Senckenberg, Sven Tränkner
Digitalizing the outlines of the original exhibits with green-screen © Senckenberg, Sven Tränkner

We kickstarted a central database, in close collaboration with the curator and the scenographers from POINT.Architektur, to cope with the tasks involved in registering the data for all the exhibition objects, planning the display case, and compiling the digital content.

This database collected all the relevant information about each exhibit and was available on the web and on mobile devices. It included names, measurements, notes on mounting, names of lenders, as well as scientific information such as the distribution, habitat, and age of each item. The use of photos was very important; at first, simple photos of each exhibit were done with the mobile app, later these were replaced with professional photos. Administering all the required data using a central database allowed a very efficient exchange of information between the curators, scenographers, writers, scientists, and translators.

Without MESO’s management system, I would never have been able to process this number of content items in a way that would be understandable.

In the second phase, the database ensured problem-free updating between all media stations, which accessed their data live from the same system. It also allowed corrections to be made during ongoing operations.

For any final photo fine-tuning, we implemented a photo-editor within the exhibit, which allowed the photographer to rework image croppings and image selections right in the exhibition room.

Multi-narrative interaction concept

We believe that the core task for a museum is to collect and exhibit authentic originals objects. The opportunity to use digital systems in museums has tremendous potential, since many properties and aspects of objects are not directly visible. 

However, an additional layer of information always creates additional complexity in the presentation, which then needs to be understood by visitors. The digital layer must only extend but not eclipse the authentic layer. 

Our multiple-narrative interactive approach offers all of the relevant target-groups a scientific and aesthetically appealing introduction to the topic of geobiodiversity. 

In collaboration with the scenographers POINT.Architektur, it was very important to us to implement the media stations in an unpretentious and honest way, providing maximum insight with a minimum of means.

We supplemented the larger-than-life sized display wall with two digital media stations.

Each station consists of two monitors: the left monitor shows an enlarged detail photo, and the right one shows a clickable outline of the whole wall and background information about currently selected exhibits in the wall. 

Swiping horizontally on the right screen allowed browsing all exhibits from the same category. So if the screen shows a bird you will get more birds when swiping. This in turn encourages visitors to go back to the exhibit wall and find this bird ion reality. 

As a tactical measure scrolling vertically allowed showing all exhibits which were lended from the same Senckenberg institute. 

The left screen always shows high-resolution detailed photographs of the exhibits.

touching the silhouettes changes the left screen with the pictures and displays information on the exhibit

Clicking on a category on the right screen highlights all the present exhibits belonging to that specific category.  

An educational-play approach

Visitors can set themselves specific missions in cooperation or competition with each other by using a digital map in order to test and expand their knowledge of the exhibited objects in a fun way. Various levels of difficulty are available for different target groups.

Dual screen for player groups on both sides

Making-of

Developing the software of the media stations in our office in Frankfurt, Germany. 

the scenographers view in the database stored all requirements of the exhibit like size, weight...
the scientists view stored information about the species which gets displayed to the visitor....

Curious about our approach? Feel free to get in touch!

Sebastian Oschatz Partner +49 69 24 000 321 +49 69 24 000 321

MESO Digital Interiors GmbH
Gutleutstr. 96 . 60329 Frankfurt . Germany

Team

Sebastian Oschatz, Johannes Lemke, K. Ulrich Schneider / Superblak