After six years and $25 million, the renovated building, located in Corona Park, has been restored as one of NY’s most impressive architectural sites. Originally built for the 1964-65 World’s Fair, the iconic building was in dire need of repair. During the renovation, the building was brought up to code with an updated electrical systems, energy-efficient lighting, heating and fire alarms. Additionally, because the museum’s initial space exploration theme is no longer as relevant as it once was, the team decided to revamp the exhibition to focus on a more current topic: Earth exploration and sustainability.
The permanent interactive installation immerses visitors in a fantastical animated world where actions, gestures, movements and decisions control life in various environments, such as the desert, mountain valleys, plains, reservoirs, jungles and wetlands. This illustrates the impact of how the world is kept in balance and the effects of climate change. Visitors ‘work’ to improve each landscape by doing such things as planting seeds, moving logs and directing water flow.
Each environment has its own trees, plants, and animals, but they share a common supply of water. The ecosystems are fed by a central waterfall that is projected 38-ft high in the exhibitions and flows out across an interactive floor that spans 2,300 square feet. As visitors explore the interconnectedness of different environments, they strategise to keep systems in balance, and experience how individual and collective actions can have widespread impact. These effects are based on core concepts of sustainability science including feedback loops, equilibrium in a dynamic environment, and causal links and influences.
The exhibition’s simulated environments were created by Design I/O. The continuously changing experiences are driven by gesture-sensing and location-tracking technologies as well as global, environmental and social databases.
Dan Wempa, vice president of external affairs at the Hall of Science explained that the interactive installation is meant to be a long-lasting educational experience. “We wanted to teach people that their actions have reactions and consequences. There’s nothing like this — as far as we know — in any museum experience."