Facebook sponsored the new 2,500-square-foot studio with a generous $255,000 grant.
“It’s important we partner with organizations with a forward-thinking view on the use of technology,” said Doug Roberts, Ph.D., an astrophysicist and Chief Public Engagement Officer at the Museum. “This makes science relevant and accessible whether you are looking at big data or a physical object. And it aligns with what Facebook is doing to connect people around the world.”
Facebook’s investment in these innovations will impact thousands of children who come to the Museum annually for field trips, as well as the hundreds of thousands of Museum visitors.
“Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is an incredible community resource. Facebook is proud to continue our strong partnership with the Museum and support this new, marquee technology, which will directly impact STEM education in Tarrant County,” said Holli Davies, Facebook Community Development Regional Manager. “Facebook has been part of the Fort Worth community since opening our data center in 2017, and we’re committed to playing a positive role in Tarrant County and supporting its students. We can’t wait to see the exhibit come to life in 2021.”
Anchoring the new exhibit space will be Science On a Sphere®(SOS), a giant global display system suspended from the ceiling developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The large, interactive sphere will be among the highest-resolution anywhere in the world. SOS uses computers and video projectors to display around 1,500 views of Earth, planetary systems, and other animations. Science On a Sphere® presents images of Earth’s atmospheric storms, climate change, ocean temperatures, and outer space phenomena in a way that is both intuitive and captivating.
“Our goal is to connect guests to relevant discoveries and news happening right now,” said Morgan Rehnberg, Ph.D., a planetary scientist and Chief Scientist at the Museum. “We could conceptualize an exhibit on the science of vaccinations, for instance, and how the new Covid-19 vaccine compares to other vaccines throughout history. Or we could track a hurricane or wildfires on Earth or space events like the rover landing on Mars next year.”
Rehnberg said the exhibit will react quickly to news events and change with the flip of a switch. All studio elements, including a dozen holograms, will be connected to one theme for either self-exploration or a tour with a Museum guide. Museum staff has technical and creative experience producing interactive, immersive visual experiences for galleries, virtual reality, and 360 display systems. Another goal is to share the technology and stories created for the Current Science Studio with other museums, Rehnberg added. Universities and colleges in the area also are interested in the exhibit’s potential for research and exploration.
Roberts said the exhibit will also show history, acting like a time machine. The Museum will display some artifacts as holographic images, enabling visitors to superimpose holographic projection onto physical objects, enabling guests to make a deeper connection.
“We’re trying to create fun, new ways to engage our guests inside the Museum,” Roberts said. “Post COVID, people are going to want to get away from Zoom calls and engage in social learning.” The Current Science Studio continues the Museum’s tradition of engaging guests in immersive learning and exploring how we all will learn in the future.
Photos and B Roll of Science on a Sphere can be found at https://www.facebook.com/scienceonasphere
The Museum was established in 1941, is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and is an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute. Anchored by its rich collections, the Museum is dedicated to lifelong learning. It engages guests through creative, vibrant programs and exhibits interpreting science and the history of Texas and the Southwest. For more information, visit www.fortworthmuseum.org.