Exhibit Technology OMA

In early summer 2016, David Davis and Kerry Magruder wrote three short, one-page reports about Galileo’s World as part of the successful application process for three awards from the Oklahoma Museum Association.  The separate reports, each reproduced here, focus on Exhibit design, technology, and educational outreach. These brief reports just scratch the surface, but maybe offer a starting point to explore more deeply in discussion during docent training events.

Technology and media

Galileo’s World involved various technology and media initiatives, both on site and online. These initiatives were designed to help visitors grasp the multifaceted character of the exhibition and to connect the world of Galileo with the world of OU and with their own experience.

On site:

Visitors begin their tour of Galileo’s World at the OU Libraries by watching balls fall from an 18-foot tall replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, when they press a large red button. Two monitors provide explanatory information in this exhibit created by students and faculty in the College of Engineering.

Elsewhere on the main floor, visitors pass by a “Reading Nook” and a “Technology Square.” In the latter, they may explore connections from Galileo’s world to their own world via a large monitor, attached to an iPad kiosk, running an app featuring semantic analysis, created for the Galileo’s World exhibition by the Moomat tech company in Tulsa.

Other exhibits, on the 1st and 5th floors, include 8 monitors with iPad kiosks, featuring a variety of video and audio resources.

The six galleries on the 5th floor include imaginative, one-minute introductions to each gallery produced as letters written to Galileo from his eldest daughter, Sister Maria Celeste (filmed with an OU freshman dramaturgy student). Other resources include video instrument tutorials, provided at high resolution in a partnership with the Museo Galileo in Florence.

An 80-inch monitor in the exhibition theater provides a 2-minute overview of the entire Galileo’s World exhibition. Another 80-inch monitor in the main Exhibit Hall projects beautiful, high resolution, artfully-photographed images of books on display, enhancing the emotional appeal of the rare books as aesthetic objects in their own right.

All of these technological initiatives help visitors connect in a more meaningful way to the original rare books and other objects on display.


Although Galileo’s World is a temporary exhibit (one year in multiple locations, followed by a two-year reprise), it will endure through a permanent online presence. Central to this enduring presence are three initiatives, each designed with different but overlapping purposes: an Exhibit Website (galileo.ou.edu) for general exploration and discovery, a digital library for scholarly research (repository.ou.edu), and an iPad Exhibit Guide for educators and individual study. The first two of these work with all digital devices.

  • The Exhibit Website includes directions and information about each Galileo’s World location, as well as an events calendar. From the Exhibit Website, one may jump to digitized versions of the books in the digital library, read their descriptions in the Libraries’ online catalog, and explore further links. The captions on the Exhibit Website are abbreviated for the casual visitor walking through the exhibit for the first time.
  • Each of the 350 original rare books on display is being digitized cover to cover for inclusion in the digital library (most are already uploaded).
  • The iPad Exhibit Guide offers more comprehensive information about each gallery and each object on display. Its captions are roughly twice as long as those on the Exhibit Website. At over 1,000 pages and with over 6,000 images, it is a free download obtained by searching the iBook Store for “Galileo’s World Exhibit Guide” (requires the free iBooks app for Mac or iOS).

Free Open Educational Resources (OER’s) produced for Galileo’s World are posted online at the university repository, ShareOK.org (search for “OU Lynx”). Educators and others may follow the lynx-open-ed.org blog to stay up-to-date with OER development and educator outreach.

Finally, Galileo’s World information has been prominently featured in the Facebook, twitter and blogs of the History of Science Collections.  The twitter account (@OUHOSCollection) has more than 500 followers.

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