The Archaeopteryx intrigues us. The 150 million-year-old ‘Urvogel’, as it is referred to in German, of which only a dozen fossil specimen have been found, continues to advance our understanding of primeval life and evolution. The paleontological exhibition at the Bürgermeister Müller Museum in Solnhofen is the only one in the world to showcase several of the rare Archaeopteryx fossils permanently.
A media station was developed for the newly designed permanent exhibition of the museum that places the Archaeopteryx fossils in context and virtually brings the ‘Urvogel’back to life. The core of the installation is the skeleton model of an Archaeopteryx in twice its natural size. Using two vertical touchscreens that are pivoted around the skeleton model along a circular track, media images can be superimposed onto the Archaeopteryx and examined: the image displayed on the screens in real time positionally maps onto the exhibit and includes virtual hotspots that draw attention to the bird’s special anatomical features. The plumage of the Archaeopteryx can be interactively superimposed onto the image of the skeleton: visitors can look at and examine the many details of the virtual living animal from all positions within the pivoting radius of the screen. In addition to the imaging level that allows visitors to see through the exhibit, monitors display various other aspects of scientific research and findings about the ‘Urvogel’.
The media station is in the icon room of the Bürgermeister Müller Museum, where the exhibition’s precious highlights are showcased. Given the immediate spatial proximity to the Archaeopteryx exhibits, a modest design was selected for the media station and the screens. This allows the focus of perception to be on the precious fossils and supports the special aura that emanates from them.