From May to October last year, Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea, housed a cross-disciplinary SciArtEdu (science, art and education) exhibition designed by the South Korean particle physics community and local artists with the support and participation of CMS and members of the local ORIGIN collaboration*, which includes ALICE, LIGO and ICEcube. For the six-month duration of the exhibition, the 15 m-high exhibition centre building was wrapped with an image of CMS, creating an eye-catching scene in the centre of the city.
Inside the vast building, curious visitors discovered a unique exhibition created by ORIGIN-CMS curator Michael Hoch in collaboration with the museum staff, local and international scientific colleagues and artists. The exhibition, entitled "The Cosmonaut", examined humankind's millennia-old quest to understand the mysteries of the cosmos, connecting this quest to current particle physics research using displays of real objects, photos, videos and text, and juxtaposing them with contemporary artistic representations.
Although the exhibition took place during the pandemic, which restricted in-person access, a comprehensive virtual programme was organised, including regular presentations, meetings with scientists and artists, and scientific and artistic educational workshops specifically designed for teachers and students.
Rather than limiting the impact of the exhibition, the pandemic restrictions encouraged and inspired the organisers to reach out to a much wider audience by recording the events and the entire exhibition for virtual access. A 3D “street-view” recording enabled virtual visitors to explore the exhibition while accessing supplementary information at the click of a button.
For example, while wandering through the exhibition, one can “meet” Nobel Prize winner Barry Barish standing in front of a blackboard giving a 20-minute presentation on the history of gravitation and the discovery of gravitational waves in 2015. The blackboard itself is an exhibit, having been used for more than 60 years at CERN and saved from destruction when the CERN Theory department was renovated.
The virtual exhibition is now archived and remains accessible here (science floor, art floor), where it may continue to be updated in response to new developments and discoveries. The virtual archive is accessible from any internet-connected device and can be used at any time for education purposes and to inspire different audiences. It is an exciting example of how modern technology, some of it born at CERN more than 30 years ago, can be used to extend the lifetime and enhance the content and geographical reach of previously localised exhibitions.
*ORIGIN is a consortium of scientific collaborations aiming to understand the origin, composition and evolution of the universe. It supports a variety of scientific and artistic projects, focusing on cross-disciplinary engagement, networking and education on a global scale. Current ORIGIN partners are: ALICE, ATLAS, CMS, LHCb, LIGO, VIRGO, ICEcube, Muographer, the Parameter Institute and the CLS.