Maine's Premiere Science Museum
Nestled in the mineral-rich hills of Western Maine, The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum (MMGM) offers a treasure trove to gem mining enthusiasts, history buffs, students, scientists, and those who just want a chance to say they touched the Moon and Mars.
Put this on your “museums to visit before you die” list. – Boston Globe 12/12/19
Did you know that meteorites are the oldest material mankind can touch? Some are over four and a half billion years old! MMGM's Stifler Meteorite Collection offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the universe, our Solar System, and how we are connected to these rocks from Space. Here's how we helped create a visually stunning and informative gallery:
Aligning the projectors to make one seamless visual.
Cosmochemist, Alan Rubin, giving our own Allen a helping hand in the studio.
MMGM's Executive Director, Barbra Barrett, reviewing the big meteorite show in virtual reality at Sputnik Animation with Jay Paulus of Paulus Design Group.
Michael McInnis mixing the sound in the gallery for the main meteorite show.
Meteorite Introduction Show
At timed intervals throughout the day, the meteorite gallery turns into an immersive theatrical experience by syncing five large monitors, two projectors, and a surround sound system. Under the direction of Jen from The Story Board, 3D animations were created and mapped to the dome on the gallery wall by our friends at Sputnik Animations. Visuals were then created for the side displays to support the main wall scenes. Atmospheric sound and narration were provided by Michael McInnis Productions. While the museum and gallery were still under construction, we were able to test the show in a virtual reality environment at Sputnik's studio saving time and money. Once onsite, the team fine-tuned sound, perfected visuals, and blended the projectors into one seamless image with the goal of creating an "out of this world" experience.
When the main show is not on, each exhibit area has its own video which supports the meteorites on display in that area. We collaborated with meteorite experts from around the world to create seven short educational and engaging videos that breakdown what meteorites are, where they come from, the different types of meteorites, and the origin of our solar system. We also hopped on a plan to Tuscon, AZ to track down some real-life Meteorite Hunters to learn about their thrilling and often dangerous work.
What happens to those displays when the main show is not playing or the individual exhibit videos are not triggered? We created looping visuals of rotating meteorites, stars being born in the Milky Way, plus a fun, interactive station with Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA's). After researching NEA's, Jen approached the technologically-savvy folks at Perch Design Studio to create a real-time visual of the millions of asteroids in our Solar System, in particular the ones that are monitored due to their proximity to Earth. The resulting interactive is mesmerizing as well as terrifying. Luckily, the big NEA's tend to stay far enough away from us Earthlings.
FELDSPAR MINING EXHIBIT
Feldspar, used as an ingredient in ceramics, was first mined in Maine in the 1850s. It became a major industry by the early 20th Century and a vital part of Maine's mining history. MMGM visitors get a glimpse into this period of Maine history and a chance to help some miners "blast" for feldspar in this interactive exhibit.
Tasked with recreating a typical day in a 1940’s Maine feldspar mine, we had an opportunity to use our creativity while striving for historical accuracy. We did it all – from scriptwriting to casting and costumes, to location scouting for a mine, to the filming and editing, and finally testing the interactive elements and onsite installation. We hope it's a fun experience for all ages since it was a lot of fun to create.
Interested in the art and science of sphere making or gem cutting? We filmed experts in the craft from start to finish in order to give museum-goers some tips of the trade and a glimpse behind the scenes.
Each video station is configured with proprietary software and "Spinbrowser" dials, allowing the viewer to spin through four days of the sphere making process and one long day of gem cutting in a matter of minutes. Along with researching, filming, and editing the two long-form videos, we also created attract modes for each viewing station, configured the proprietary software, and installed the systems onsite.
INTERACTIVE STORIES, ORAL HISTORIES, AND MORE
We're lumping a bunch of projects together here even though they all deserve their time in the spotlight.
Maine Minerals Maine Voices
Peppered throughout the museum are 6 kiosks and 6 opportunities to hear from miners, jewelers, lapidaries, collectors, and other members of the Maine mining community. Building off of the 50+ oral histories we filmed, the creative team (MMGM/Paulus Design/Perch/Story Board) came up with 5 story themes, each with 6 chapters – one chapter per kiosk with supplemental soundbites and tidbits. The museum opened with the theme "Lucky Finds" which highlights some of the historical finds and the people involved. New themes will be introduced over the years to keep the exhibits fresh. The Story Board team researched, wrote the scripts, filmed, edited, and learned a whole bunch about the exciting industry and the fascinating people involved. All of these interviews can also be seen in their entirety on dedicated viewing stations.
Along with the exhibits highlighted above, we also created seven looping animated graphic videos for Contemporary Mining, Lapidary, and Mica exhibits.
Marketing and Advertising
One last comment – we are so grateful to Jay Paulus, Barbra Barrett, and the rest of the MMGM team for inviting us on this journey. Speaking for myself (Jen), this is now my museum family. I spent countless hours on the exhibit floors filming the construction process, climbing ladders, crawling in cabinets, spending late nights with the creative team and the museum staff getting this very special place ready for the public. As a result, we also had an opportunity to create social media ads showcasing the building progress and the people behind the scenes as well as other marketing-related content. It's been quite a ride.