415-939-3151 grahamsplumb@gmail.com

Bishop Museum : Science Adventure Center

Interactive Exhibit Designer
Gyroscope Inc Exhibit Design
2002 – 2006


A much loved and deeply respected Hawaiian institution, the Bishop Museum is located on the tropical island of Oahu. Founded in 1889, it has been serving the community for over 125 years, and attracts thousands of international travellers. In 2006 I designed all of the interactive exhibits for their new ‘Science Adventure Center’ – a ‘wow’ provoking permanent exhibition about Hawaiian volcanology, oceanography and biodiversity.

Where the old model of a museum was ‘exhibit as textbook’ the Bishop Museum uses the exhibits as a visitor resource, employing interactive technologies to enable a self-directed learning experience. The overall effect is to give the ‘museum’s voice’ the feel of a knowledgeable guide, gently leading the way through visitor-driven exploration.

The ‘Conservation Lab’ was one of our most innovative
exhibits, proceeding commercial interactive tables by
several years. Our goal was to liberate the exotic specimens
from the exhibit case, bringing them and the science closer
to the visitor. Our idea was to embed the specimens in clear
resin pucks, using an RFID chip hidden in an opaque base.
By placing a puck on the interactive screen, the technology
could tell what the specimen was and where people moved
it on the table. This meant that visitors were free to study
the object in their hands as they made interactive
decisions on the table.

I worked with scientists and educators at the museum to develop three software programs for the Conservation Lab exhibit. These interactive activities focused on DNA Science, Species Taxonomy and Electron Microscopy, for which I produced storyboards, wrote copy, and drew up detailed screen designs. The project went on to win two international design awards, including best Interactive Exhibit of 2006 from Communication Arts magazine.

I was an early adopter of SketchUp, and have used it frequently to help convey concepts to clients  – especially in the early phases of a project when too much detail can distract from the core idea. SketchUp can also be used to produce simple movies, helping to locate exhibits in space, or describe simple mechanical functions.

Electron Microscope Images by Dennis Kunkel

One of the joys of working with museums is having access to great scientific content. These stunning electron microscope images were taken by world-renowned electron microscope photographer Dennis Kunkel and are a sample of the 400+ images that feature in the Conservation Lab exhibit. They feature a wasp and a spider zoomed into at 10,000x magnification.

All images are Copyright of Dennis Kunkel Microscopy, Inc.

Developed with Gyroscope Inc: www.gyroscopeinc.com

Hardware Engineering by BBi : www.bbinet.com

Software Engineering by Redhill Studios : www.redhillstudios.com