The Section of Mystery: What’s behind the door?

The Carnegie Museum of Natural History opens new permanent exhibit featuring 3-D holograms.

photo courtesy of Carnegie museum of natural history

Hidden behind a half-sized wooden door in Bird Hall — a hallway on the museum’s third floor that is (unsurprisingly) lined with bird taxidermy — is The Section of Mystery, a display featuring 3-D holographic technology. A new permanent exhibit, The Section of Mystery is part of the museum’s efforts to modernize and adapt to new ways of how people learn.

When a curious museum guest opens the tiny door, he or she will be immersed by the sounds of an animal as a 3-D hologram hovers in the dark. The hologram — which could be anything from a penguin to a whale to a buffalo — changes each time the door is opened and closed.

With a theme of ‘Museum Treasures,’ the animals used were carefully selected from the museum’s collections. In order to be scanned into a hologram, the animals had to meet specific criteria — for example, they needed to make a sound and not be on active display.

Headed by artist and technologist Caroline Record (a Carnegie Mellon University graduate), The Section of Mystery was a collaboration between CMNH and Innovation Studio — a development laboratory at the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. Record made custom software to aid in the process which was primarily broken down into four phases of design, programming, media collection and fabrication.

Categories: The 412