New Mexico museum launches more ‘online exhibits’ to increase accessibility

It’s one of the most popular museums in New Mexico and if you can’t make it there, the Museum of Natural History and Science wants to come to you, by going virtual.

They have an interactive game of growing algae for biofuel. If ‘Bio-Al’ players use a bad combination of adjustable elements they control, they’ll lose their crop.

The new game is one of six “online exhibits” now on the natural history museum’s website.

“There’s a huge birth of technology that’s being developed, especially here in New Mexico,” said the museum’s web designer Mark Kotanchik.

The museum is using that to expand its reach by educating people who can’t make it to the museum.

Another online exhibit of an interactive volcano map highlights this unique part of the state’s landscape. Research curator Dr. Larry Crumpler says it provides more information online that can be displayed at the museum.

“It’s a way of sort of focusing and controlling the amount of information but also making it broadly available to a widespread group of people,” said Dr. Crumpler.

He says online exhibits also save the museum money and space. “Just a tremendous number of resources go into each exhibit, so you can have an exhibit that languishes for decades as our volcano here,” said Dr. Crumpler.

Photos and data are more easily updated online as well. Web visitors can learn “All About Stan,” the T-Rex skeleton greeting visitors in the museum’s atrium.

Or, they can check out an ecology map on conifers, basins, mesas, and more.

The website already attracts more than 30,000 visitors a month, putting it on track to surpass the 250,000 visitors from last year.

“It not only highlights some of the cool research that’s going on here, it’s a lot more interactive,” said Kotanchik. The museum already uses tablets and 3D printing at its exhibits and is exploring even more tech options online.

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