institution: Rosenbach Museum & Library
category: Exhibition Media or Experience
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula are often thought of as merely entertaining stories about grotesque monsters and their demented creators. In reality, these masterworks have proven to be brilliant predictors of the practical and ethical concerns that arise with advancements in technology.
While topics such as mortality and enlightenment held different meanings when the authors originally penned these great texts, they are more relevant than ever for contemporary scientific issues like climate change, drug-resistant viruses, and artificial intelligence. Our content team worked closely with the museum’s historians to uncover stories, imagery and personal narratives that made the science and history relatable and moving.
Bluecadet was called on by the Rosenbach Museum to create a signature experience exploring these complex concepts as part their new exhibition celebrating the 200th anniversary of the release of Frankenstein.
Drawing inspiration from the museum’s world-class collection of original scientific and literary manuscripts, Bluecadet worked closely with the museum’s curators and staff to develop a choose-your-own-adventure interactive and film experience designed to explore contemporary scientific issues through the lens of the 19th-century literary masterworks.
Flanked by selections from the authors’ original handwritten manuscripts, our interactive touchscreen and synchronized digital projection enables visitors to play the role of “Mad Scientist,” by conducting a range of causal and vigorous digital experiments within the exhibition hall. Each experiment is devised of original content created by our team of creative technologists, videographers, and sound engineers and is inspired by modern-day crises such as the spread of Zika virus and the effects of nuclear weapons on the environment.
To complement the museum’s on-site visitor experience, Bluecadet created “Modern Monsters,” a compelling web-based interactive available on both desktop and mobile devices.
Modern Monsters offers three digital experiments engineered to help users become conversant in contemporary scientific research and issues. Users have the power to create a monster, intervene when it acts unexpectedly, then decide to keep or destroy the creature at the end of the experience. Like the protagonists in both Frankenstein and Dracula, users of Modern Monsters are faced to confront the consequences of scientific overreach.
The Modern Monsters web experience helps bridge the gap between 19th century and 21st-century issues, and successfully facilitates scientific exploration of contemporary scientific issues.
[The] digital interactives invite visitors to connect the historical material to contemporary scientific issues. In an era fraught with discordant interpretations of scientific fact, these fictional monsters continue to encourage us to contemplate the challenging questions science presents in our daily lives.” – The Rosenbach Museum
The project was funded in part by a grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and supported by Arizona State University’s Center for Science and the Imagination and School for the Future of Innovation in Society.