Header image with scenes from a VR application
project-smng

Explaining, Understanding, Joining in – Public Engagement in Museum Research

Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz

New digital formats enable glimpses into hidden habitats and behind the scenes of scientific research.

Most museums preserve extensive collections behind the scenes, away from the public eye. Only a tiny portion of the objects that have been collected for centuries are ever exhibited. The storage rooms of Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung alone contain over forty million objects. They are the object of the multi-faceted research interests pursued by the scientists there. The focal point of their activity is biogeodiversity, in particular its mechanisms and preservation.

Permanent exhibition at the Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz

Video: © Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz, photo: © Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz / Robert Binas

Experience Science

New digital formats provide outstanding opportunities for making the public more aware of these research topics and rendering science more transparent. Scientists at Senckenberg Museum have researched inaccessible habitats, such as the soil, and the animals that inhabit them for decades. It is now possible to make their research processes and findings experiential. Virtually exhibiting museum collections enables visitors to browse around the storage rooms, making the fascinating variety and wealth of these natural treasuries accessible to them.

Stimulating Participation – Promoting Citizen Science Using Digital Means

Digital formats also put new tools into the hands of amateur scientists, allowing them to actively participate in selected research projects using apps that provide virtual identification keys, for example. In this project, Senckenberg represents the many natural sciences museums in Germany. With the above-mentioned points in mind, we are developing and testing innovative digital applications that include, yet go above and beyond, virtual, augmented, and mixed reality.

Prototypes

Virtual glimpses into the life under our feet: The sub-project of the Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz enables visitors to immerse themselves in otherwise inaccessbile environments.

Abenteuer Bodenleben (Adventure in Pore Space)

A virtual reality animation lets visitors experience the variety of organisms that inhabit the pore space in the forest soil.

For the VR application, soil animals were reconstructed in 3D according to scientific specifications.

For the VR application, soil animals were reconstructed in 3D according to scientific specifications. © .hapto

Digitally shrunk to the size of a soil animal: To immerse themselves in the pore space, the users assume the perspective of small soil creatures.

Digitally shrunk to the size of a soil animal: To immerse themselves in the pore space, the users assume the perspective of small soil creatures. © .hapto

View into the soil habitat

View into the soil habitat © .hapto

User tests

On a screen, visitors can observe what the wearer of the VR goggles is currently experiencing. © Nikola Xylander

Sub-project team

Prof. Dr. Willi Xylander

Sub-project lead / Director, department chief and head of section at Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz

+49(0)3581 4760 5100 willi.xylander@senckenberg.de

Dr. Jens Wesenberg

Sub-project coordinator / Research assistant at Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz

tel:+49(0)3581 4760 5306 jens.wesenberg@senckenberg.de

Dr. Peter Decker

Conception soil animal identification app / Research assistant at Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz

Kristin Baber

Coordinator of the module „Digital Photo Albums as a Source for Biodiversity Research

Torsten Collet

Museum education / Research assistant at Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Frankfurt

Luise Träger

Assistant sub-project coordinator / Press officer at Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde Görlitz

+49 (0)3581-4760-5210 luise.traeger@senckenberg.de

Melanie Fletscher

Research trainee

Anke Neumeister

Research trainee

Jacqueline Gitschmann

Technician, Senckenberg Museum for Natural History Görlitz

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