Imagine entering a crime scene and being the one responsible for noticing and collecting every trace of evidence. The pressure is on: you know the analysis of your evidence must be scientifically sound to crack the case.
You've seen the hit television crime drama, CSI: Crime Scene Investigationon CBS. Now, there's a forensic science exhibit related to the TV show, as well as a Web-based learning adventure. The groundbreaking exhibit aims to give visitors something close to the experience outlined above - and some profound science learning, as well. CSI: The Experience opened in May 2007 at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and is currently on a national tour of science museums.
The exhibit and Web adventure were developed through an unusual partnership: the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History leading the Science Museum Exhibit Collaborative; CBS Consumer Products; and the National Science Foundation, which provided $2.4 million in funding for both the exhibit and a CSI "Web Adventure" targeted to underserved youth. It has the American Academy of Forensic Sciences' seal of approval and deep involvement. Rice University's Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning is creating the online experience, and Bob Weis Design Island Associates is leading the exhibit's design.
"With the launch of this exciting new exhibit, we're extending the CSI: brand beyond entertainment and licensed merchandise into an engaging learning experience," commented Elizabeth Kalodner, executive vice president and general manager of CBS Consumer Products. "It was essential that the integrity of the show was upheld in this endeavor and we feel that partnering with Fort Worth Museum of Science, Bob Weis Design Island and Rice University provided the perfect DNA match to make this an educational, authentic and fun experience for visitors of all ages."
"I have been involved in the design of lots of projects, but this is by far the most exciting and gratifying," Weis said. "We've managed to forge a dynamic relationship between ourselves as designers, CBS and the CSI creator Anthony E. Zuiker, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, and the National Science Foundation. In doing so I believe we are creating one of the best examples of the synergy between entertainment and education. The CSI recognition is going to draw the audience into an adventure, and they are going to learn science as a result," he said.
CSI: The Experienceis a completely immersive exhibit that invites visitors to enter "crime" scenes where they identify and record evidence. It takes them inside "laboratories" for scientific testing and to "autopsy" rooms for pathology analysis. Then it returns them to the "office" to build their case, based on the scientific evidence. The exhibit brings to life real scientific principles and the most advanced scientific techniques used today by crime scene investigators and forensic scientists.
From DNA and firearms analysis to forensic anthropology and toxicology, visitors will be immersed in hands-on science in an exciting multi-media environment with dazzling special effects direct from the CSI TV series. Cast members from the TV show welcome guests into the exhibit from a large video monitor, lead them through the experience, and praise them for a job well done at the end. The exhibit is geared toward adults and youth 12 and above.
This is not the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History's first venture into the world of forensic science. The Museum also developed the exhibit, "Whodunit? The Science of Solving Crime," 13 years ago for the Science Museum Exhibit Collaborative (SMEC) and it has toured 32 science centers since. Advances in DNA science and information technology have dramatically changed the field of forensic science, so the Museum thought it was time for a new exhibit on the topic, said Charlie Walter, the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History's Chief Operating Officer. "We're excited about our partnership with CBS and the CSI TV show, which will help us reach and engage a much larger audience in this field of science," he said.
"This project is a great example of how the two worlds of entertainment and museums can come together to the benefit of the public," added Van A. Romans, President of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. "When you consider CSI's popularity, coupled with our Museum's ability to produce extraordinary learning exhibits and the work of some very important partners, we know this is going to be a powerful exhibit experience."
Primary Partners for CSI: The Experience