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First Look at Da Vinci Science Center’s New Exhibits

Ideum worked with DSC and partners to conceptualize, create, and install exhibits in the newly-relocated Pennsylvania science center.
Authored by
George Hardebeck
Director of Media Systems

In July of 2021, Ideum was approached by multidisciplinary design firm Roto with an offer to partner with them on the conceptualization and infrastructure design for Curiosity Hall in Da Vinci Science Center’s new location in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Our contributions include creative development, character development, 3D design and programming of the multiuser interactives, as well as the design and installation of an A/V system supporting a four-story tall projection. Curiosity Hall, an approximately 60’ x 60’ x 60’ exhibit hall, is one of several permanent exhibit areas in the science center. As part of the Curiosity Hall interactives, we were challenged to explore the essence of Leonardo da Vinci’s curiosity through three interactive exhibits. Each exhibit was designed to align with Da Vinci’s three primary fields of study - Art, Engineering, and Human Physiology - all the while inspiring the audience to be active participants in the experience.

When entering Curiosity Hall, visitors are immediately drawn to the north wall. Standing at a monumental 58 feet, the wall’s surface is a massive projected 3D world, which Ideum designed and built in Unity. Connected to this projection are nine 43” Drafting II touch tables, which act as palettes where users can make their own creations to add to the immersive world. Users can explore different artistic methods that were used by Da Vinci and his colleagues during the Renaissance, engineer their own fantastical flying machines, or learn about how our daily choices impact our health and fitness. All of the creations made on the touch tables are then spawned into the larger-than-life world and presented alongside those of other participants, creating a shared world to which all visitors can contribute. 

Ideum was the principal concept and UX designer for all 3 applications with input from our partners at Roto and Da Vinci Science Center. We produced the art and engineering applications while Roto produced the physical fitness portion. In addition to the interactives, Ideum led the design of the supporting facilities as well, including the custom projection booth, catwalk, power, and network, all of which support the projection infrastructure of over 36 million pixels and 130,000 lumens.

While Ideum’s time on the project has come to a close, the impact has only just begun. The brand new, state of the art science center will have its grand opening on Wednesday May 22, and we encourage you to visit and engage with your curiosity in a way that would make Leonardo da Vinci proud.