At Museums, Computers Get Creative

From the NYT:

At the Exploratorium, the hands-on science museum here, there is an exhibit called ‘Energy From Death’ that staff members refer to as ‘the rotting carcass.’ In a small terrarium hundreds of dermestid beetles eat the flesh and bones of a dead baby mouse over several days.
Next to the live beetles is a touch screen showing a video of the entire process, recorded with a different mouse carcass. A button can be used to speed it up, slow it down or pause it.
Visitors who stop to view the exhibit are as entranced by the video as they are by the live necrophagous frenzy. Families gather around the screen to start the video, then stop it. Often they go back and forth between the live exhibit and the video, trying to stop the recording at the same stage as the deconstruction of the carcass in the case.
‘People love it,’ said Adrian Van Allen, a multimedia exhibit specialist at the museum.
Interactive exhibits have been a mainstay in museums for more than three decades, seen as a way of improving learning by increasing visitor involvement. And at many museums over the years, interactive exhibits have employed computers.

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