Augmented reality, gesture reactive walls and advertising markers that seem to bring dinosaurs to life are all part of anew exhibit which premiered June 23 at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.
The world premiere of Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana, presented by Raymond James Ltd., one of North America’s leading full-service investment dealers, features some of the largest and most unusual dinosaurs from the Southern hemisphere. The exhibit, curated, designed and produced by the ROM, is making its first stop in Toronto before embarking on an international tour.
Based on new, groundbreaking research from scientists around the world, this exhibition reveals strange-looking dinosaurs, unfamiliar to North Americans, that evolved in isolation in South America, Africa, and Madagascar.
Ultimate Dinosaurs features cutting edge Augmented Reality experiences, used in creative ways to bring these specimens to life as never before. The ROM is the first Museum in Canada to use augmented reality on such a creative scale. Other innovative technologies are used in the exhibition to illustrate the story of how a dynamic Earth with drifting continents affected the evolution of dinosaurs, from a Southern perspective.
And in another first, the ROM has produced a marketing campaign using AR in select advertisements, putting a 3-D dinosaur at your fingertips. The advertising campaign, including markers around Toronto that function with an iPhone or iPad similarly to a QR code, enable viewers to get a short dose of dino reality.
At the exhibit itself, visitors using the iPad or iPhone, experience AR that layers jaw-dropping virtual experiences over real environments. At two different points in the exhibition, visitors can scan dinosaur skeletons through a tablet screen provided and watch as the dinosaurs transform before their eyes – becoming animated and covered in skin.
And towards the end of the exhibition, visitors become part of a reactive AR experience, as two large digital murals depicting dinosaur habitats react to visitors’ motion, inviting them to stop and explore life like a dinosaur. As you approach the walls, the dinosaurs react to you, changing as you get closer and closer.
Janet Carding, the ROM’s Director and CEO, says, “This world premiere exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to experience dinosaurs never seen before in the ROM – or anywhere in Canada.”
Visitors are greeted by the largest dinosaur ever mounted in Canada – the Futalognkosaurus – upon entering through the Museum’s main Bloor Street West entrance. A giant long-necked sauropod and one of the biggest animals to have ever walked the Earth, this dinosaur stretches 110 ft. long and, alive, would have weighed as much as 10 elephants.
Surrounded by stunning life-like environmental murals immersing visitors in the land of the dinosaurs, the exhibition features real fossils, skeletons, and 17 full-scale skeletal casts, many of which have never been seen before in Canada.
The ROM worked closely with Meld Media, a Toronto-based integrated production studio, to incorporate all the AR and other interactive facets of the exhibit.
This scientifically rigorous exhibition is supported by the strength of the Museum’s in-house research and curatorial teams, led by Dr. David Evans, Curator, Vertebrate Palaeontology in the ROM’s Department of Natural History.
“Ultimate Dinosaurs brings together some of the most exciting discoveries made in the last two decades,” says Evans. “It is a must-see for people of all ages interested in dinosaurs or the history of life on our Earth”.
The ROM has incorporated a raft of other activities surrounding the exhibit to give a full experience. They include:
- For children, the Dino Adventure Trail where they can follow in the footsteps of the palaeontologists who unearthed these strange creatures. Hands-on activities include touchable bronze casts, a touchable Dino Lab with real fossils, and interactive education pods that put everything about Southern Dinosaurs at your fingertips.
- This fall, on select weekends, the Museum hosts Dinosaur Hunter afternoons featuring a lively meet-and-greet with well-known dinosaur experts followed by a family friendly talk in the ROM’s Signy and Cléophée Eaton theatre. In addition to meeting the dino hunters, the Museum will offer free special events and activities for dinosaur lovers of all ages. Dig for bones, make your own fossils, build a dinosaur, and see and touch real specimens from the Museum’s vaults.
- Crafts, costumes, special film screenings, and scavenger hunts will fill visitors’ days with dino delight.
- The Friends of Palaeontology, a membership program at the ROM, offers an opportunity to become involved in a community of individuals and families who are fascinated by fossils (including dinosaurs) and the history of life, and who are interested in supporting palaeontology and palaeontological programming at the Museum.
Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana tells the story of the break-up of Pangaea into the continents that we know today and how that affected the evolution of dinosaurs during the Mesozoic, 250 – 65 million years ago. It follows the evolution of the dinosaurs through the Triassic Period (250-200 million years ago), Jurassic Period (200-145 million years ago) and Cretaceous Period (145 – 65 million years ago).
And with its AR and interactive components, it sounds like an exhibit not to be missed.