Scienceworks Museum

Beyond Perception

The brief

For the Beyond Perception exhibition at Scienceworks Museum, Snepo has created two interactive experiences, "Cosmic Events" and "Fluid Dynamics", with the principle aim 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 for Museums Victoria. The exhibition needed to be cutting edge, contemporary and unconventional to contribute to a change in perception about Scienceworks. It has shifted from a place for families and organised groups, to a place for everyone, especially inspiring teenagers to visit outside of traditional school excursions.

What we achieved

Our process is to conduct rapid prototyping early, to test ideas and always be looking for ways to push the boundaries of what’s possible. We built software prototypes during the commissioning stage. We then worked closely with the project, exhibition and AV teams to build a staging environment in Sydney so that prototyping could continue on the target hardware and exhibition display set up. This allowed us to see first hand how people approach the works; what elements encourage longer use; and how we can encourage play. User testing was conducted with diverse target audiences, including 10-16 year old school students and university researchers, giving us direct feedback on the scientific accuracy of the intended displays and what’s appealing to teenage audiences. Our next step was to develop production ready software for further testing at the Museum.  

All the immersive experiences are underpinned by real world content – coming from the remarkable edge of science research from institutions across Victoria, including 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 feedback to date from visitors, key stakeholders, and most importantly from teenagers, has been incredibly positive. The 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. The experiences bring together physical and digital interaction and displays seamlessly from reactive stretchy touchscreens to carved wooden rotary encoders. Working collaboratively with audio designers and developers we integrated an ambient soundscape that combines pre-recorded sounds, with generative audio that is trigged by key events.

As part of Snepo's interactive experiences, visitors can bend the fabric of spacetime with a stretchy touchable surface and experience the unpredictability of turbulence. Everything is social, non-linear, and self-guided. Designed to appeal to the sense of agency that appeals to teenager's sharp and curious minds.