May 2014

…and Beyond

It’s early May and time for a news update from the Studio. In the coming two weeks members of ALCHEMY studio will be exhibiting, speaking at and/or attending the following conferences:



The Association of Children’s Museum (ACM) Interactivity Conference in Phoenix, AZ





The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Expo in Seattle, WA








The European Network of Science Centres and Museums (ECSITE) in The Hague, Netherlands







Come see us in the exhibit hall or between sessions. We look forward to talking with you about more of the things that have been inspiring us, hearing about your projects, and connecting in person.  Meanwhile, we can share a few things we’re thinking about and learning about through recent projects this year.


Journey Through Autism

Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum of Utah & Autism Council of Utah





ALCHEMY studio has been engaged to help launch the early phases of an innovative traveling exhibition intended to build understanding and empathy for people living along the autism spectrum. Drawing from authentic experience, family stories, and children’s own perspectives, Journey Through Autism will educate, inspire, enlighten, and open hearts and minds.


The Lab

Children’s Science Center (CSC)



As a showcase site for this emerging Northern Virginia science museum, The Lab will serve as an activity and communications launchpad for CSC’s future, larger site – providing hands-on activities promoting STEM learning, inquiry engagement, tinkering, innovative demonstrations, and an area for young “budding scientists.” ALCHEMY studio has been engaged to advance planning and design for the site, which will also be an active, hands-on prototyping studio. See their recent press here. ALCHEMY studio is also helping on the thinking for the future permanent site as well.


Process Lab

Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum



As part of the Museum’s comprehensive expansion and renovation, the Process Lab will engage visitors in the design process – defining problems, brainstorming solutions, making/modeling prototypes, and testing solutions – through hands-on, inquiry-based activities that relate to the Museum’s collections objects. ALCHEMY studio is developing, testing, and designing activities that will invite visitors to practice some of the skills designers use every day while being playful, creative, and collaborative.


Energy Neighborhood

Discovery Museum & Planetarium



Discovery Museum & Planetarium, in Bridgeport, CT, is re-vamping an energy gallery to refresh the messages and create a more immersive, open-ended experience. ALCHEMY studio has been engaged to advance the project’s vision, develop activities, advance immersive design elements relating to the neighborhood theme, and build on the Museum’s extensive local network to create relevant everyday links for children and families.


Dream Big


MacGillivray Freeman Films and the American Society of Civil Engineers



In partnership with the American Society of Civil Engineers and MacGillivray Freeman Films, ALCHEMY studio is developing Dream Big, a multi-layered initiative focused on large-scale civil engineering projects. The group’s efforts will result in a dramatic and memorable large-format film featuring current projects from across the globe, year-round museum-based programming offered by a huge (and already very active) network of engineering professionals, training support, and other project elements. As part of its approach, Dream Big consciously builds on recent insights about engaging girls and young women in engineering disciplines.

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To infinity…

So, this week we have become very interested in the work of Matt Elson who creates Infinity Boxes. Perhaps some you have seen them at Burning Man.

Clearly, as indicated by the video (we’re sure the photographs only hint at the scene inside), the impact of these experiences is pretty special. As we have blogged about before, the exploration of infinity seems to fascinate people.













His work got us wondering about how the concept could be used to create similarly magical experiences about other subjects in ways that might be more impactful than a media piece.  Ideas that have come to mind include the inside of a cell, a diorama of a nature scene, perhaps even the subatomic world, another planetary surface… or even a mathematical theorem.


His experiences are an example of how some of the most age-old exhibition techniques can be used to great effect – perhaps even more so in the context of our digital world.


What does this technique make you think of? Where does your imagination go?

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3D Modeling

The past 10 working days have been very busy here in the studio. We have some new projects ramping up and several moving creatively forward, but we have had the chance to encounter a couple of very interesting projects that all demonstrate the idea of 3D modeling in new ways.

The first is Lix, the world’s smallest 3D printing pen in the world.




Well, this pen doesn’t exist yet, but it’s currently a Kickstarter project. Certainly, this direction of 3D printing will become increasingly prevalent in the creative fields, and we think it’s easy to see this technology on the museum floor. From art museums to children’s museums, the artistic and creative implications are easy to see. In science museums, while it might be easy to imagine something like this being used in a maker or tinkering space, this idea got us thinking about some new ways it might be used.

How might a 3D pen like this be used to document or record phenomena?

Could it be used instead of a pen for exhibits like pendulum drawing?

This trend of replacing a physical medium with something new is part of the allure of the other project we ran across recently – a piece called  ”36 Ventilators, 4.7m3 Packing Chips” by the Swiss artist Zimoun for the Museo d’Arte di Lugano




The amazing similarity of this piece to ocean waves and flowing water is breathtaking. No doubt, some aspects of size weight and the idea of many particles cause this movement to “flow” almost as a fluid. It reminded us of some of the natural phenomena exhibits seen at many science museums. We’re very intrigued by the idea of experimenting with this behavior in different spaces and different contexts.

What do you think? What other exhibits, installations, or devices do these projects remind you of?

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