Glowing response to new exhibit

Photo by Will Huang
Photo by Will Huang

Whether you want to unleash your inner spy, have x-ray vision or recapture your child-like wonderment, THEMUSEUM’s latest exhibit has you covered.

LIGHT Illuminated aims to celebrate the science of light and light-based technologies through the use of interactive displays and eye-popping design.

As a testament to the United Nations’ International Year of Light, the University of Waterloo and the UW Optical Society of America, along with other sponsors, hope to inspire residents within the Waterloo region to take a greater interest in how light plays into their everyday lives.

“It’s not just magic that flips a switch and creates light,” said Aimee Gunther, president of UW’s OSA.

Situated on the fourth floor of THEMUSEUM in downtown Kitchener, organizers were challenged to create an exhibit that appealed to both children and adults.

“In a museum that’s not guarded by grad students, [the exhibit] actually has to be safe and beautiful and accessible,” said Gunther.

Thankfully, the OSA chapter members tasked with conceptualizing the exhibit had the support of students in UW’s knowledge integration department to ensure the final product met their criteria.

With the support of a local technical firm Wizard Labs and designers at THEMUSEUM, LIGHT Illuminated has managed to deliver on its promise.

Entering the exhibit, visitors are first met with the challenge to “race the speed of light.” The clean and minimal design, coupled with the display’s participatory nature set the stage for the amusing exhibit.

From there, attendees are invited to learn about polarization, whether it be through using rope to understand light waves, blocking light waves with polarized panels or wearing polarized glasses to see the bottom of a fish tank.

Rather than presenting a single medium to understand polarization, LIGHT presents an array of immersive experiences to satisfy all learning styles.

Never once while venturing through this exhibit did the excitement stop. Situated in the second room is a gorgeous infographic that explores the array of different types of light waves. Just opposite stands an ultraviolet room outfitted with craft stations, which invites visitors to revisit their youth and create art that will glow under the purple hue.

Although many displays are obviously meant for children, exhibit curators have done an excellent job ensuring that visitors of all ages feel engaged and welcome.

The real standout activity is found in the fourth room. A freakin’ laser maze Mission Impossible-style. Participants are invited to a dark room, with a handful of lasers fragmenting the space to protect a “precious” vase from theft. A fog machine reveals a familiar geometric security system that participants have to maneuver around to fulfill their mission.

Although this activity failed to present much scientific insight into lasers, it was a necessary inclusion to uphold LIGHT’s exciting nature.

While other exhibits will present visitors with bland video segments or daunting walls of text as their main attractions, LIGHT is bursting with activities to create a truly immersive experience.

By striking a balance of clean design and amusing displays, LIGHT Illuminated proved to be an entertaining visit for both children and adults.

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