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Saturday, November 7 • 10:15am - 10:45am
How a Botanic Gardens Used Technology to Share Its Hidden Scientific Research

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The Denver Botanic Gardens connects visitors to its researchers at the new Science Pyramid building and interactive exhibit. The Gardens not only provides a beautiful landscape of plants to enjoy, but also a laboratory for DNA investigation, an herbarium for decades of specimen collections, and a living museum that engages in research around the world. Sadly, most visitors never knew this! The solution became the realization of a futuristic vision: a combination of stunning physical design, and creative digital interactives. Suddenly, the behind-the-scenes work was brought to the forefront and visitors were connecting directly with researchers, and seeing the garden around them through a scientific lens.

At the MCN presentation, the Gardens’ Digital Content Specialist will share the exhibit team’s style of digital storytelling, and specifically how they transform data, research papers, and field work into an exciting exhibit. One other incredible detail is that the entire exhibit is bilingual in English and Spanish. This was a first for the Gardens, and the challenge was not only in translation for the new text and audio, but also in adapting existing digital interactives to match and provide the same, easy bilingual switching (a Science On a Sphere globe with a very 1990’s menu had to go!). Discussion will also examine the cross-disciplinary approach, where multiple departments (research, exhibits, interpretation, IT, and more) worked with an outside vendor to develop the new exhibit space.

Highlights include environmental lighting driven by the weather, a user-controllable topographic table that shows ecosystem ranges and expandable content, exploratory audio and video content that encourages visitors to look at things differently (like a scientist), and an area for demonstrations that integrate objects and personal interpretation into the otherwise high-tech space. The content management system makes it possible for the science to come alive for the visitors. The practical capability to swiftly change, update, and provide relevant content into the permanent, physical exhibit features provides a lively feeling and immediacy to visitors. This combination now provides the unique opportunity for the researchers to interact with the public, both in the content and in the space. Sharing new and relevant information about where Gardens visitors live and inspiring and training them to participate in real-world, citizen science initiatives has spawned a continued cycle of discovery, education, and action that supports the organization’s mission. The Gardens exhibits team would encourage other museums with traditional visitor experiences to step beyond the normal venues of presentation, allow a creative vision to form, and embrace what modern technology can provide for visitors.

Speakers
avatar for Gavin Culbertson

Gavin Culbertson

IT and AV Administrator, Denver Botanic Gardens
My office is the "Science Pyramid" - what more do you need to know?Interestes/knowledge base: filmmaking, storytelling, digital media, museums, nonprofit, exhibits, project management, web apps, projection systems, technology.



Saturday November 7, 2015 10:15am - 10:45am
Harriet Hyatt Regency Minneapolis 1300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis, MN 55403

Attendees (34)