Klima X

Review

of an Exhibition

by Justine Roberts

Published on October 31, 2008

  • Description:

    Deep inside the relatively traditional National Museum of Science, Technology and Medicine in Oslo is the truly surprising and powerful exhibit experience: Klima X. Visitors begin in an ante-room where they trade their walking shoes for tall yellow rain boots. They can then enter a darkened hallway which ramps gently down into the main exhibition space. The railing slowly becomes warmer to the touch as visitors begin to notice water underfoot, pointing to the relationship between rising temperatures and rising sea levels. This is the first of a series of innovative “aha” moments structured into the exhibit.

    The main exhibit builds on these techniques of juxtaposition, multi-sensory experiences, and immersive environments to create a seamless context for the main message of the exhibit. Standing in 10cm of water, visitors navigate a large room containing a series of components. Some of these such as the large, slowly melting blocks of ice set on palettes, and the occasional rain shower in one portion of the room reinforce a sense of place, and are highly aesthetic experiences. Other components are more interactive and contain more content, including a foot-activated piece, and robotic boats that visitors can dock at columns where they trigger a light sensor to learn more about specific topics. Most of the detailed interpretation is in the form of giant banners hung edge-to-edge all around the room.

    There are many wonderful dimensions to this exhibit. It is playful and thought provoking, memorable, engaging, and stimulates curiosity. There is an immediacy to the experience that works on an unexpectedly emotional level. It is refreshingly unusual, in a way that felt right for the urgency of the subject. I appreciated that the museum considered this important enough to take a risk on the exhibition. And while it may not have been intentional, I thought their out-of-the-box approach worked on another level as a model of the kind of thinking we collectively need to adopt to begin to address global warming.

    Not everything was so successful, however. I don’t speak Norwegian and so couldn’t read the graphics, or understand the audio pieces. That was disappointing to me because I was interested in more detailed information. The limited interactivity probably also limits the audience for the exhibit. Although younger visitors might enjoy splashing in the ankle-deep water the exhibit seemed to target somewhat older visitors.

    In all, I spent almost an hour in the exhibit, making connections between the water underfoot, the melting ice, the rain showers, and the images, and absorbing the central message. It was an experience I will never forget.

Latest Comments (4)

Thanks!

by Sarah Bugg - November 11, 2008

I’m so glad someone’s been to see this exhibit and has presented a review! Our CEO has been raving about it, but has no pics and not much of a description but is insisting that we do something equivilent!

Nice!

by Jon Haavie - November 20, 2008

Thanks for this review. I am working on a description (Case studie) to be published on Exhibitfiles shortly. You can find more pictures from the exhibition here: http://flickr.com/photos/43615714@N00/2220313565/in/set-72157603826943340/


Please contact me for any questions on the exhibition. (Yes! The ice weight 7 tons when installed. It takes 7 weeks to melt away, much faster than the climate researchers predicted). All Exhibitfiles members are very welcome to come and see the exhibition (open until Dec. 2009).

Teen favorite!

by Elizabeth Chilton - November 28, 2008

I printed out this review along with descriptions of 4 others and had about 100, 13-year-olds here in Detroit rate them according to how interesting and fun they thought they would be. I was very surprized when this exhibit turned out to be a big favorite amoung these young teens – blew away exhibits like Star Trek and Science of Spying!

You'll remember it

by Alison Conboy - December 11, 2008

Visited this during the research for our own climate change gallery, and found it one of the most memorable exhibitions I’ve visited. It’s a brave and original take on a topic that all too easily suffers from fatigue and worthiness.

Although it’s true that most panels are in Norwegian (understandably) there are small English summaries, and I’d have no reservations recommending it to international visitors since the most noteworthy thing is the experience, rather than the text. Having said that, it was useful to meet the team and have an English translation, in particular since the ‘vote with your feet’ feedback station’s success revolves around its clever selection of questions that could truly divide an audience. Be aware that it is a temporary exhibition, so it’s not huge, and was developed quite quickly, but if you’re interested in communicating climate change in museums, I’d say it’s definitely worth either a visit, or a good chat with the insightful team who developed it.

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