Background

HARVARD MUSEUM OF HISTORY

EARTH & PLANETARY SCIENCE GALLERY

Immersive experience design - Interactive Tunnel

INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE
RISD | 2019

Background

The Harvard Museum of Natural History is a natural history museum housed in the University Museum Building, located on the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Earth & Planetary Sciences Gallery is one of the most expansive galleries in the museum. The gallery displays thousands of rare minerals and sparkling gemstones in both rough and cut specimens. The exhibition highlights new research and offers a broad overview of the dynamic processes and events that formed our planet and that have shaped its continuing evolution. Visitors can touch rock and mineral specimens that date back to the beginning of our solar system.

Interactive

tunnel

Above are the site condition diagrams. Problems to be solved are: High noise level when the interactive speakers are on, lack of interactive stations, and entrance of the gallery is not clear. After discussing with the Director of Exhibitions Jan Sacco and Senior Designer Sylvie LaBorde, I figured that there are several project goals to achieve:  reduce noise, install more interactive stations, add more information boards, improve overall immersive experience, and create a better way-finding system. 

Concept

Story board

Information board

Large minerals

Small minerals

Medium minerals

Timeline

Interactive wall with touch screens

Stories / Informations

Tunnel entrance

Stories / Informations

Exit

Interactive tunnel

Mineral collections

Background / information / stories

Interactive space 

Rocks from the space

Proposed 

03

Extrude

01

02

Divide

Existing 

Shift

Divide current circulation path into 4 areas

Shift them to create a new circulation path 

Extrude the new circulation path to create a tunnel with 4 openings

Transformation

Design

The interactive tunnel is made of interactive LED screens. The animations follow the visitors as they walk through the tunnel. As visitors pass through the tunnel, they will see and experience from the origins of life to how the rocks are formed. 

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Sunlight:

Some minerals like Apophyllite, Beryl and Bloodstone, are very sensitive to sunlight. The installation of the interactive tunnel provides shade for the minerals, which lower the amount of sunlight in the mineral collection area. 

Sound:

The outer layers of the tunnel and interactive  touch walls are  made of acoustic foam. It helps absorb noise from both inside and outside of the tunnel. 

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Multipurpose tunnel:

 

The tunnel works as a timeline, information board, interactive station, pathway, sound barrier, and shade provider. 

It is also a room divider and a circulation guide. The interactive tunnel makes the mineral gallery more welcoming for children and families. 

The two interactive touch walls work as entrances and exits to the tunnel. People who want to take the shortcut through the tunnel can talk through the interactive touch walls. There are 4 LED touch screens on each interactive walls. The LED touch screens are placed in different heights to make sure that children and people on wheelchairs are able to reach them. 

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The outer side of tunnel wall will be used for information boards. There are not much Informations about most of the minerals other than the name and year. Providing more information and stories about the minerals will let people better understand the origin of life.