Happy (Museum) Easter (Eggs)
I'm on the road in California, but in honor of the season, here's an encore post -- a homage to museum "Easter Eggs." Enjoy!
Museum designers often add "Easter Eggs" to their work. But not the brightly dyed or chocolatey varieties --- these are more akin to the hidden "Easter Eggs" that you may stumble across (or deliberately search out) inside video games, crossword puzzles, or DVDs.
For visitors, it's fun to feel like you've found a little "secret" inside a museum building or exhibition, and for designers, it's a little "trick" to reward visitors for carefully observing and examining things inside the museum.
"Exhibits as advent calendars" as Dan Spock has observed (to mix religious holiday metaphors a bit!) So here are a few of my favorite museum easter eggs:
• Secret Elves at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science: Artist Kent R. Pendleton worked on many of the Museum's dioramas, but supposedly he wasn't allowed to sign his name to his work. Instead, Pendleton included little "elfin" figures hidden throughout many of the displays. There's a great blog posting about Pendleton's retro easter eggs!
• The Magic House Mouse: The Magic House Children's Museum outside St. Louis has some wonderful exhibits, but one of my favorite "hidden gems" is the tiny decorated mouse hole near the baseboards in one of the galleries. If you were just whizzing around you might not ever see it, but if you're willing to get down on your hands and knees you might see (as in the photo below) a "presidential" mouse:
• The "Hidden Tunnel" at Casa Loma: Casa Loma is a gigantic historic house/castle outside Toronto that is filled with enough crazy details to keep even little kids interested during the self-guided tours. One of the things I remember from a family visit (nearly 40 years ago!) was the cool secret tunnel, nearly 100 feet long, that was hidden behind a pivoting wall section (just like in all those scary movies --- but this was real!) that led to the Casa's underground wine cellar:
Of course, some museums, like The City Museum, also in St. Louis, or the Museum of Jurassic Technology in L.A., are practically interlocking collections of "easter eggs" or in-jokes, but that's certainly one aspect that makes them so popular.
What are some of your most memorable Museum Easter Eggs? Let us know in the "Comments Section" below!
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Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!
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