A New Kind of Museum Exhibit


    THE New England Museum of Natural History in Boston, Mass., has been the first to turn a trade innovation in lighting to the service of museum galleries. In the particular case described by Bradford Washburn in the Museums Journal(39, 450; 1940) you gaze at a stoat watching you from the edge of a summer wood. As you look, the lights fade, become momentarily dim, and when the full light shows again the summer scene has gone, snow covers the ground, the trees are bare of leaves, and the stoats have changed into their winter dress of ermine. The case really contains two groups, a summer and a winter one; but the spectator looking at the summer group perceives it, when it is brilliantly lit internally, through a transparent sheet of Belgian ‘black’ glass. When the internal lights fade and the second group is illuminated, the black glass becomes opaque and acts as a mirror in which only the snow scene is visible, exactly overlapping the summer scene, of which it is a replica in reverse. Many technical difficulties had to be surmounted before the new exhibit was satisfactorily completed; but its dissolving habitat group at once made a great impression. One wonders if the average mortal really needs such bait in order to be induced to look at a representation of Nature: and the result-half his mind is thinking about the trick of the thing; only the other half is giving itself to the study of the Nature group.

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    A New Kind of Museum Exhibit. Nature 145, 508 (1940). https://doi.org/10.1038/145508a0

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