This summer, the Lafayette Science Museum is opening a new, groundbreaking exhibit: the Virtual Reality Laboratory, a first-of-its-kind exhibit that will completely transport users into expansive new worlds.
The third and final installment of Fossil Giants: Dinosaurs & Mammals closed in May to make way for the museum’s next exhibit that lets patrons experience VR with eight seated and standing virtual reality stations – right in the main gallery. These science-themed stations will allow users to blast off into space, journey inside the human body, explore the wonders of the deepest oceans and more.
“There will be eight stations and each one of them will have a unique experience associated with it including art and science,” says Kevin Krantz director of the Lafayette Science Museum. “For instance, Google Tilt Brush is one and that is an extremely cool 3D art palette on both of your hands and your controllers turn into this endless supply of brushes, effects, colors, textures, and so on. And another one is the Blue and it’s oceanic in nature. We’ve got Final Approach, which is aviation. And we’ve got the Apollo 11 Experience.”
According to Krantz, the self-serve VR installation will be the first of its kind in the United States. The museum’s in-house technician is working tirelessly with local tech firm CGI on the installation’s interface to help folks easily walk in and jump into the program. The installation will feature easy to use touchscreens to activate the programs, which are set with 30 minute time limits to ensure fairness and safety.
Krantz adds that many of the installation’s programs are “out of the box,” save for one.
“The one thing that they won’t be able to get that’s out-of-the-box that we’re going to be offering is the Acadiana 360,” says Krantz. “It’s a custom project that we’re working on with Holbrook Media, who have a Nokia Ozo that they purchased just for this project.”
Acadiana 360 will feature several VR experiences that are unique to the local culture including a Mardi Gras parade and ball, a crawfish boil, a dancehall, the Tabasco Plant, the Jungle Gardens, a swamp tour and the Rookery at Lake Martin.
Acadiana 360 will also feature a virtual live performance from Wayne Toups as well as a virtual Festival International experience.
“So you’re going to experience these things the same way with Festival International,” says Krantz. “It’s going to be propped Indian-style in front of the bands, so you’re going to be able to look up and see the band playing all around you and see the whole crowd. So, it’s going to be a 360 experience with a super high resolution system.”
The new exhibit opens on Saturday, June 3 at 9 a.m. at the Lafayette Science Museum, located at 433 Jefferson St., in Downtown Lafayette. For more information visit LafayetteScienceMuseum.org.