’BURGH
UPGRUV
Curious minds

What's behind Carnegie Museum's magical 'Mystery' door?

Display offers education framed by interactive effects

Story by ALEXANDER POPICHAK • Photography/Videography by SYDNEY BAUER

Tucked away on the third floor of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Oakland, amid the bird collection, are doors that have long aroused curiosity among visitors. Most strange about these otherwise nondescript wood doors is their size — half the height of a normal door measuring roughly 4 feet wide and 5 feet tall.

Are there leprechauns in Pittsburgh?

Visitors can now discover for themselves what lies behind the door in the first interactive exhibit from the Carnegie Museums' Innovation Studio. Emblazoned with the label "Section of Mystery," the door invites visitors to open it up and discover what's inside.

Taking a look for ourselves, we discovered some of the museum's treasures.

"The idea to do something with the door came from visitors' curiosity, because visitors were knocking and pulling on the door for years," says Caroline Record, a creation technologist with the Innovation Studio.

Record led the project that created the Section of Mystery. She says the team wanted to expand how they displayed collections, but in a way that didn't "look like a museum exhibit." Even as they were installing the exhibit and before the words were painted on the door, she says people were pulling on it, trying to find out what was inside.

So, what's behind the door?

When visitors open it up, a red velvet curtain frames a 3-D projected image of an animal, along with some information and sounds of the animal — any one of 30 that live in the section. Close the door and open it again, and a different animal can be seen.

Sadly, you can't go inside, there's a Plexiglas barrier just inside the door.

Since it debuted June 3, Record says the Section of Mystery door been opened and closed more than 6,900 times. (And that's as of early July!)

She says the project took a total of six months and involved over 1,000 lines of code and several workshops at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh in 3-D scanning. All the carpentry, projection and coding results in a seamless interactive experience.

According to the project's page on the Innovation Studio website, the animals that live behind the door were chosen because they all make a sound, are not on active display, were large enough to be accurately 3-D scanned and were stored in a removable case.

The Studio's handiwork has indeed been met with a warm reception by some of the museum's youngest visitors.

A recent summer camp contingent stopped and crowded the door's opening. When they heard the exhibit was different every time the door was opened, one young boy exclaimed "close it and open it until we find a dodo!"

According to Kathleen Bodenlos, director of marketing at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, what originally was behind the door was significantly less exciting than the birds, mammals and various creatures who now inhabit the space.

"What was here before was truly like a storage space — like an attic," Bodenlos says.

Now, it's a cool mystery.

GETAWAY
Making a splash

Longest mat racing slide in the world opening at Hersheypark

Travel + Leisure is ranking it as one of the top 18 new theme park rides of 2018.

Keep reading ... Show less
Fill 'er up

Sheetz makes top 10 gas stations in America

A Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain is getting some national attention in GasBuddy's gas station rankings.

Back in May we reported that Sheetz topped the fuel guide's list of best restrooms in Pennsylvania, as well as Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia. But the latest survey shows Sheetz customers elevating the Altoona company to the eighth slot in overall love across America.



Those wonderful Sheetz restrooms didn't make the national top five. In fact, Sheetz was excluded from the top slots for cleanliness, customer service, outdoor lighting and, yes, even coffee.


GasBuddy.com

NO HORSING AROUND

Fundraiser saves pony that lost penis to cancer and frostbite

Because one potentially debilitating issue wasn't enough.

Keep reading ... Show less
Thanks for the help

Jacksonville bakery sends 7 turnovers to Big Ben ... get it?

Well, he gave the Jaguars seven turnovers, first.

Keep reading ... Show less
Unprovoked

Man killed wife with bat, left body in home for 2 days, police said

One minute Kenneth James Cernobyl was preparing to run errands with his wife, police said.

The next minute he struck her in the head with a baseball bat, police said.

Keep reading ... Show less
Just making things up

Trump lies about his approval rating among blacks

President Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted that his approval rating among blacks has doubled. Not only has his support not grown, it has steadily declined.

Keep reading ... Show less
say it ain't so

The Diner in State College — and its grilled stickies — could soon be a thing of the past

Another landmark State College eatery held dear in the memories of scores of Penn State alumni may be lost.

Keep reading ... Show less
Still kicking at 96

Don't worry: Betty White isn't dead or being accused of sexual assault

It's that time of year: Time to freak out over why Betty White is trending on Twitter.

Keep reading ... Show less