Tourists from all over the world travel to Norway to witness the northern lights or aurora borealis. However, due to its unpredictable nature, the northern lights spectacle can easily be missed. An alternative is the Artic University Museum in Tromsø, Norway. It’s the only place in the world where you can see the northern lights every day of the year in an advanced projection setup powered by Barco.
The Arctic University Museum of Norway offers exhibitions about northern culture, including Sami culture, arctic wildlife and medieval church art. One of the most recent and appealing additions to the museum is the northern lights exhibition. This scientific exhibition shows the interesting history of northern lights research and the beauty of this phenomenon.
“With this exhibition, we wanted to go beyond a traditional, static museum setup, and create something truly innovative,” said Cathrine Paus, project manager at the Artic University Museum. “We believed that we could only do justice to the advanced northern lights research with advanced technology, and that’s exactly what we found with Barco.”
The exhibition invites visitors to see the aurora from up close, and lets them discover how it is formed by means of stunning projections, interactive models and computer animations. In this way, the museum brings an interesting mix of education and experience.
The exhibition was realized with the help of Nordic Barco distributor Stagelab, system integrator Caverion and AV specialist Superlys. “We wanted to create a ‘wow’ experience, but it also had to be scientifically correct,” says Tor Ditlevsen, lighting designer at Superlys. “The biggest challenge of the exhibition was to actually recreate the northern lights by means of projectors. This is not easy, because the aurora colors need to be shown on a background that is as dark as possible. Thanks to the excellent black levels of the Barco projectors, we were able to do this.”
The exhibition uses eight units of Barco’s G60-W8 for a 7.5-meter tunnel where visitors can walk through to be immersed into the northern lights. The total projected area of this tunnel is no less than 56 square meters. Two G60-W8 projectors are used for a projection mapping installation where research-related images are projected onto a Sami tent of a neighboring exhibition. Thanks to the G60 projector’s compact design, no real estate of the neighboring exhibition had to be sacrificed. Two high-end F80-4K7 projectors are used to provide scientifically accurate color representations of the aurora in two different setups.
“I have been working in the industry for more than 25 years now, and I have come to know Barco projection technology very well,” Ditlevsen said. “I was very glad that we were able to use Barco projectors for this technically challenging exhibition. With Barco, I’m confident that we are safe for many years, without needing a dedicated support person on site 24/7.”
Another advantage of having a digital exhibition is that it is very easy to change the exhibition content. According to Cathrine Paus, student groups want to see different things than regular tourists. Now it is very easy to change the tourist-oriented content into a more educational setup.
“Our ambition is to bring more young people into the museum again, and we also want to stimulate their interest for northern lights research. Museums don’t have to be boring,” Paus said. “With the Barco technology used in the northern lights exhibition, we have proven that museums can be cool and dynamic too, and that they can appeal to the interests of young people.”
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