GLAMi nomination: Hidden Worlds Virtual Exhibition: C.R. Percival’s Microscope Slide Collection

nominated by: Lauren DiVito, Ingenium, Canada
institution: Ingenium (and Canada Science and Technology Museum)
category: Exhibition and Collection Extension
https://ingeniumcanada.org/hidden-worlds

After re-opening in November of 2017, the Canada Science and Technology Museum became home to many exhibitions including an interactive display of microscope slides from the C.R. Percival Collection, featured in the Hidden Worlds exhibition. Showcasing hundreds of slides from the natural world, the public can use their smartphone to photograph specimens frozen in time, some of which are over a hundred years old. Visitors can view insects, spiders, marine life, flora and fauna, and share their experience on social media. The Hidden Worlds: Virtual Exhibition (https://ingeniumcanada.org/hidden-worlds) extends the collection beyond the four walls of our museum, bringing the experience online so that visitors from all over can engage with the microscopic world.

Pushing the boundaries of our system limitations, we are proud of the modern, clean, bilingual website we are able to provide to the world. The main homepage currently features one collection, C.R. Percival’s Microscope Slide Collection 1895-1954, however the site has been designed to leave room for future expansion as more collections are digitized. The Percival section gives visitors an introduction to the collection along with a few featured images. The public is encouraged to share their interactions with the website or physical exhibition by posting images or text through social media using the hashtags #ScitechHiddenWorlds or #SciTechMondesCachés. These can then be viewed on the homepage along with inspirational tips for using the images, creatively.

Once a visitor has entered the Percival Collection section, they can browse through a selection of micrographs, which will then yield its corresponding high-resolution slide image as well as more in-depth artifact metadata for those who want a deeper dive into the information. It was important to allow visitors access to view high-res images without slowing down the online experience. If they choose, the images can also be easily downloaded to their own devices, or shared on social media.

A beta test of the magnification feature can be seen with the Orb-Weaver Spider. Visitors can place their mouse over the image and see magnified sections in real-time, as if they were in a museum looking at the images and slides under a microscope. If proven successful and engaging, this functionality will be implemented across the site.

The website is responsive, ensuring a good experience both on desktop, tablet, and mobile. Elements throughout help ensure ease of use and understanding for the visitor: unique urls for each micrograph aid in easy sharing, scroll bars help in progression through the micrographs, but finger swiping also allows for a more intuitive way to browse, and the simple interface allows for the images to be the feature of the website.

Created for people who can’t come to the museum, and for those curious to know more, the Hidden Worlds Virtual Exhibition: C.R. Percival’s Microscope Slide Collection gives visitors, teachers, students, and researchers online access to a wonderful collection, providing a unique opportunity to engage virtually and share in this exhibit experience.