The Secret World Inside You
Contrary to the common misconception that all microbes are germs that cause disease, most microbes in your body are vital to keeping your digestive system, your immune system, and even your brain working properly. We want to share our own research on this topic, expose visitors to new perceptions, and explore how humans fit in and interact with the natural world.
UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
The Secret World Inside You seeks to change the general public perception of microbes. This cutting-edge exhibition uses larger-than-life models, audio exhibits, computer interactives, videos, smelling stations, art installations and a live theater to acknowledge each individual is a separate ecosystem with hundreds of species – one is human and the rest are microbial. Floor-to-ceiling Kaos walls create a flow starting with shedding light on the unseen world of microbes to how they affect our future.
OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION:
Visitors enter the exhibition through a room covered in mirrored panels. Hundreds of LED lights are suspended from the ceiling to create a seemingly infinite number of light microbes. This visual landscape prepares visitors for the idea that our bodies and our world are filled with microbes. Kaos fabric gallery dividers guide the visitors through the exhibition. These floor-to-ceiling, curving dividers contribute to the atmosphere by making visitors feel as though they are inside the human body. Further within the exhibition, a 14-foot interactive projection of a woman’s body allows many visitors to zoom in on microbial happenings on various parts of the body. A 6-foot tall glass Winogradsky column, filled with natural materials such as mud, eggshells, and newspaper scraps, represents a microbial ecosystem. Organized through out the exhibition, oversized microbe installations allow visitors to see these miniscule organisms up close.
PROJECT DURATION AND LOCATION:
The project was conceived and began in New York City beginning in June 2013. Production finished and the exhibit opened in November 2015. The Secret World Inside You will close in August 2016 and then leave the American Museum of Natural History as a traveling exhibition.
FITS BEST INTO CATEGORY:
Interior Space and Exhibition Design
PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY:
Nearly everything in the exhibition was created in house. An infinite effect in the introduction space was created with mirrors and LED lights. Oversized microbes within the show are fabricated with foam, fiberglass, and fluorescent paint. A 14-foot interactive projection uses a white solid table, projector, and the image of a woman’s body. The 6-foot tall glass Winogradsky column holds mud, eggshells, newspaper scraps, and other natural materials to create a microbial ecosystem. The gallery dividers consist of painted Kaos fabric.
SPECIFICATIONS / TECHNICAL PROPERTIES:
The Secret World Inside You is housed in an 8,500 square foot gallery space with 16 foot ceilings. The exhibition is designed to be easily altered when traveling to locations of larger or smaller dimensions.
Natural History, American Museum of Natural History, Science, Paleontology, Exhibition, Museum, Dinosaurs Among Us, Birds, Evolution, Fossils, Dinosaurs, Extinction
We used studied scientific information, public spaces, and visitor surveys to determine
factual content, design inspiration, and public interest for the exhibition. Visitor response to an exhibition on microbiome was comparable to that of past popular exhibitions, indicating a strong response. The subtopics human health and hormones were favored, and so were included. This gave the education, business, and media relations departments high confidence in our plans.
Our greatest challenge was bringing the unseeable world of the microbiome to life. How could we represent these infinitesimal organisms? Would all microbes look the same? Additionally, because we were exploring an unseen world that is rarely spoken of, resources were not available to purchase. Nearly everything but the Kaos fabric was made in house. We combined color, texture, and large scale installations to create interesting and aesthetically pleasing microbes.
TEAM MEMBERS (15) :
Sr. VP, Exhibitions: David Harvey, Managing Sr. Dir.: Melissa Posen, Dir. Design, Exhibition Dept.: Michael Meister, Exhibit Designer: Lydia Romero, Lighting Designer: David Clinard, Dir. Graphic Design: Catherine Weese, Dir. Media: Helene Alonso, Dir. Prod.: Dean Markosian, Sr. Dir. Editorial: Lauri Haulderman, Exhibition Fabricator: Heartland Scenic Studios, Graphics Prod.: Color Edge, AMNH Fabrication Team, AMNH Media Design Team, AMNH Graphics Design Team and AMNH Editorial Team
Image #1: Photographer Denis Finnin/Rod Mickens, 2015
Image #2: Photographer Denis Finnin/Rod Mickens, 2015
Image #3: Photographer Denis Finnin/Rod Mickens, 2015
Image #4: Photographer Denis Finnin/Rod Mickens, 2015
Image #5: Photographer Denis Finnin/Rod Mickens, 2015
Copyrights of text and images belong to the American Museum of Natural History, 2015.