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Nature and Science Museum exhibit embodies Our Senses

Our Senses prompts visitors to utilize all their senses to learn.
Photo: Marianna Caicedo · The Sentry

Installation unveils the human experience

Organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York, Our Senses made its Denver debut on April 12 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The museum’s website describes Our Senses as “an exhibition for the whole family that playfully reveals how and why what we perceive is not all, or exactly, what’s actually going on around us. In a series of interactive galleries, you will enjoy some ‘sensory overload’ as you play with color, patterns, sound, scents, and touch and discover how there’s so much more to our senses than just the usual five.”

At first entrance, Our Senses comes across as an augmented funhouse mixed with a neuroscience class for all ages. The interactive exhibit takes museum-goers on a journey through the exploration of not only famous five senses but inner senses that also affect how we perceive our everyday lives. Museum-goers are also introduced to the realm outside of their perception with various activities illustrating how the critters who share the environment with  them also perceive things. 

The first feature tests the perception of human sight. “These walls never change, but what you SEE does,” a small sign teases museum-goers for their false perception of the enclosure around them on what appears to be an animated wall. The walls are, in fact, inanimate; however, the uplighting continues to fluctuate between red, green, and blue—introducing new sights to be seen at each transition. 

“One of my favorite things about this room is the peacock; the male peacock utilizes the rustling of its tail feathers to create a dazzling mating display, but the frequency of the feathers is out of human’s frequency range of hearing,” Samantha Sands, educator and program specialist at DMNS, stated. “This part of the exhibit lets us detect and perceive things in the way these animals do; while we can’t hear the feathers rustling, they’re an incredibly enticing sound for female peacocks.” 

The rest of the exhibit features a jaunt through other human senses. Rooms that feature an audio collage allow viewers, or listeners, to distinguish between the various sounds they’re hearing from two large speakers. Other rooms illustrate how people perceive different paintings and film scenes by using eye tracking. Installations also depicted a drawing of a human head or mouse depending on whichever way a wheel is turned—again detailing the human brain’s ability to be primed. 

Our Senses proves to be a sensory trek through the human brain and senses. From smell to balance and all the way to artificial intelligence and a visit from the infamous internet dress that’s been so widely deliberated, Our Senses allows for viewers to see the world from someone else’s shoes. While some aspects of the exhibit may come across as elementary to museum-goers of the older crowd, Our Senses exposes the human reality in a way that becomes a learning experience for all ages.

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