Celebrating biodiversity

Biomuseo Panama

Biomuseo commissioned Tellart to design the interactive elements for three of their galleries, including a one of a kind immersive experience for the final gallery of their museum. Inspired by the unique aspects of the Frank Gehry architecture, Tellart articulated a narrative that completes the museum's story of biodiversity. An experiential and spatial journey guides visitors from deep in the ocean up to the rainforest and ultimately into the air where a birds-eye view of Panama forms a celebration of all its natural and cultural diversity, inviting visitors to the “real” museum, Panama.

The interplay of the stories, interactives, dramatic sculptural and sound elements with the architecture form one compelling experience— with each informing and amplifying the other.

Chapters

Oceans Divided

Starting on the ground floor, visitors enter a dimly lit, compressed space. An immersive soundscape makes visitors feel like they just took a deep dive into the ocean. Two monumental aquariums flank the gallery on either side, representing the different oceans that were created when Panama rose and divided the waters.

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The interactives in the space allow visitors to explore the differences between these two oceans and the unique lifeforms that inhabit them.

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Living Web

As visitors ascend the stairs to the next gallery the ambient sound transitions from deep ocean rumbles to chirping birds and crickets. They find themselves back on land, in a high-ceilinged, light-filled space surrounded by a giant sculpture of the Panamanian rainforest.

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A series of audio stories and interactives scattered through the gallery complement the sculpture and bring its hidden stories to life.

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Visitors can identify the species and learn about the curious, beautiful and sometimes dramatic interdependencies and relationships between them.

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Panama is the Museum

The museum adventure culminates in the final gallery. As visitors reach the top of the stairs, they are surprised by a colorful projected floor that stretches out in front of them. At the center of it all sits an iconic sculpture of Panama.

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As they set foot in the gallery, visitors interact with the floor, where special spots trigger waves of motion towards the sculptural map of Panama.

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With each ripple an image appears on the sculpture’s surface that represents one of the many experiences the country has to offer. As more people wander, and run around the gallery, the map of Panama populates with its wealth of natural and cultural diversity.

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Instead of summarizing the museum, the gallery wants to inspire, and prepare its visitors for their next journey. From eating ceviche in the fish market to making a mola to kayaking in the jungle, the experience reiterates that the “real” museum is awaiting just outside for visitors to explore.

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Process

Visits to Panama and Biomuseo early in the process were essential for the team to develop unique and site specific designs. Seeing the biodiversity of the rainforest up close, as well as exploring the museum’s nuances of light and architecture helped shape the overall narrative and interactive experiences.

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Single narrative interpretation ties the three galleries and their architecture together.

The iterative process, relied on prototyping and testing sprints in our workshop and on location. Tellart continued to work closely with the museum to craft salient stories that were also scientifically accurate.

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Onsite prototyping spirit

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Tellart commissioned over 30 scientific illustrations of species

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The final, fully immersive gallery, was a significant design and production challenge. With an installation that seamlessly merges 25 projectors into a dynamic and interactive augmented space, there was no possibility for the team to test the full setup until the actual deployment. The team deftly used a combination of small scale tests, computer simulations and easily adjustable parametric design to prepare for the install.

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Projection tests with light meters allowed us to compare local conditions to those in the museum

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3D simulation and custom tools allowed for testing up front and adjustment onsite

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Project Data

Highlights:

• Three permanent galleries
• Set in a Frank Gehry designed building
• Unique celebration of biodiversity
• Custom content management system allows to adjust and expand content
• 25 projectors merge into one seamlessly augmented space
• Serves varied audience through layers of engagement

Project team:

Tellart led all aspects of the project from concept to installation, with support from an international team of partners including:
Sound design: Kling Klang Klong
Technical systems engineering, truss design/engineering: David Carroll and Associates
Scientific illustration: Madeline Verbica
Projection mapping: Harvey Moon

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