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Technology upgrades featured at Midwest Museum of Natural History

Published: Saturday, March 18, 2017 5:30 a.m. CDT

The Midwest Museum of Natural History in Sycamore has added new technology to its main gallery since receiving a $15,000 Community Needs Grant from the DeKalb County Community Foundation and a matching grant by an anonymous donor.

Brand-new touch screens and audio boxes have been installed in the museum’s main gallery, which features a collection of mounted animals from North America and Africa.

The need for improved technology in the main gallery was clear from the start; with limited text space, the museum struggled to provide educational content on all of its mounted animals that can be seen by visitors. Additionally, MMNH wanted to feature larger themes, such as habitats and conservation, in its exhibit space.

The addition of new touch screens enabled the museum to present more information to the viewer in an easily approachable experience. Audio boxes that feature 16 different animal calls provide an opportunity to experience the collection through auditory learning, as well.

“As technology becomes a greater part of everyone’s daily life, it was important that the museum evolved to fit the experiences people expect,” Executive Director Cindy Khatri said in a news release. “Touch screens opened a lot of doors for us in allowing more content to get to the visitor. We found that all of our visitors, from our youngest visitors to our oldest, were looking for a more engaging experience in the main gallery.”

In addition to the audio boxes and touch screens, a mobile app will be released in the near future. The app will feature self-guided tours visitors can open and explore while at the museum, information about upcoming events and a scavenger hunt.

Museum staff worked closely with Digital Design Service throughout the project to create all three elements (touch screens, audio boxes and mobile app) of the technology upgrades. DDS created the software and hardware for the kiosks, while the museum provided all of the content. In addition, DDS is donating a computer for an exit survey guests can fill out before leaving the museum.

The museum is a nonprofit and receives no funding from taxes or the state. To find out about programming and events, visit www.mmnh.org.

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