On December 1, a new exhibition by the Icelandic Museum of Natural History was opened by Icelandic president Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and prime minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. “Water in Icelandic Nature” aims to awaken interest and admiration for the nature of water and inform visitors of its wonders and importance for the future prosperity of society. The permanent exhibition is presented at Perlan, a former hot water storage facility and iconic Reykjavík landmark.
ART+COM Studios developed five new-media-based exhibits for the compact exhibition space at Perlan. “Water in Icelandic Nature” is the first exhibition by the Museum of Natural History. The show was designed for audiences of all ages with a special focus on school children – the show will be part of the official Icelandic school curriculum.
At the entrance to the exhibition, a dark, virtual spring bubbles over the floor. Modelled after a real freshwater spring in Iceland, its virtual ripples bounce from the curved walls that display information about freshwater springs.
Based on live weather data from the Icelandic Meteorological Office, an interactive media station provides information about the current weather situation on the island. Visitors can also learn about typical wheather conditions and get an overview of the weather of the last 100 years in a graphic display.
Another interactive media station invites kids and grown-ups alike to draw clouds and learn about cloud types and their connections to specific weather conditions.
The third area of the exhibition brings the evolution of life in freshwater into focus. A wall display includes an interactive, motion-based station at which visitors can explore the 10,000 year-long evolution of the Arctic charr fish. Nearby is a station featuring the unique ecosystem of the Thingvallavatn, a rift valley lake of volcanic origin in southwestern Iceland. Micrographs and videos of microorganisms are displayed under convex glass domes that resemble drops of water and create an analogue 3D effect. Particular emphasis is put on two recently discovered endemic species of groundwater amphipods, Crymostygius thingvallensis and Crangonyx islandicus. Looking through goggles, visitors can view mesmerising stereo images of tiny creatures living in the active volcanic zones of Iceland.
Location: Perlan, Reykjavík, Iceland
Exhibition space: 230 square metres
Commissioned by: Icelandic Museum of Natural History
Sound design (spring, games): Klangerfinder, Stuttgart, Germany
Stereophotomicrography: Wim van Egmond, Berkel en Rodenrijs, Netherlands