Raising the science centre stakes in Germany
Experimenta, the popular science centre in Heilbronn, Germany, is on a mission to become the most innovative – and the largest – institution of its kind in the country. Making steps in the right direction, the centre will welcome a new museum alongside the existing building. Inside, two permanent galleries will transform ordinary phenomena into extraordinary experiences. The air we breathe, birds flapping overhead, food decaying in the back of the fridge: the world is filled with stuff that’s barely given a second thought. But if people stop to contemplate for a moment, there’s magic to be found in the seemingly mundane. The galleries will offer inspiring insights into everyday matter and hand visitors the tools to explore it further.
Two galleries, two approaches
In partnership with Bruns, we are developing two of Experimenta’s four permanent galleries: Nature of Things and World View. Nature of Things unveils the extraordinary aspects of everyday matter – the way materials manifest in the real world and how people perceive them. In addition to predicting the future with the latest developments from Europe’s advanced labs, the gallery tells the story of the stuff humans are made of – micro- and macrostructures, biomatter, and light – through immersive zones and iconic installations.
The second gallery, World View, elucidates the mental models and methods used to understand our complex, chaotic planet. Realizing that what humans know about the world is often based on what came beforehand, we treated World View like a museum of philosophy. To expose new explorers to a world of thinking about thinking, the gallery guides the audience through methods of observation, simulation and creativity.
Discovery and self-discovery
Various scenes send visitors to Nature of Things on an interactive journey through the material world. Like the cast of MythBusters, guests become alchemists as they see what happens when they apply force to materials and set things alight. Touching a real object triggers video content in a full-screen immersive theatre. An introduction to the tangible world leads to an exploration of invisible materials – the way light, for instance, transforms our perception of what we see. After witnessing an exhibit of organisms that demonstrates the unbelievable evolution of life forms over the centuries, visitors can remodel themselves in digital-avatar form. They can dance as a stone man, see themselves as a glass statue and witness what would happen if their arms were made of elastic.
Stepping into World View is akin to entering an artist’s atelier or an engineer’s workshop – a Wunderkammer filled with the stories of famous explorers who instigated new ways of thinking about the planet. Between various artefacts – paintings, sculptures, mathematical formulas and scientific findings – are stations for self-discovery. A large yellow snake-like structure winds its way through the gallery, functioning as a playground and a place to sit down, relax and read a book.