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Regional Updates - May 2017

Marina Bay Sands Uses Augmented Reality for a Good Cause

Marina Bay Sands’ ArtScience Museum in Singapore transformed a 1,000-square-meter space into a virtual rainforest modeled on one of the last pristine environments in Sumatra, Indonesia. Using a special Lenovo smartphone device enabled with Google’s Tango augmented reality technology, visitors go play the role of forest ranger, sighting and sometimes rescuing endangered wildlife, like pangolin, mousedeer, orangutans, tapirs, and tigers. They then enter an immersive cinematic experience about the animals, created with state-of-the-art animation and projection mapping. The adventure becomes reality when visitors plant a virtual tree and make a S$38 pledge to the World Wide Fund for Nature, which hires Indonesian villagers to plant a real tree.


New Zealand Museum Hosts Drone Race

A competitor prepares for the Te Papa Drone Race, held at New Zealand’s national museum. Footage from the drones during the three-hour event was projected onto a large screen for spectators. “The sound these things make and the speed they travel at is phenomenal. They are incredibly lightweight and designed to smash on impact when they crash,” says museum spokesperson Kate Camp, adding that viewers would see “high-speed sprints, aerial acrobatics, lots of thrills, and some pretty awesome collisions.”


Australia’s Aussie World Expands

Children ride “Bombora Bounce,” one of several new attractions at Aussie World. The park—located on Australia’s Sunshine Coast, about an hour north of Brisbane—has also recently added “Mayhem Horror” maze and “Little Beaut Toot Toot” kids train. Company officials are planning a major revamp that will expand the park from 12 to 50 acres. Aussie World’s primary market consists of families with young children, though it plans to add thrill rides to attract teens and young adults as well.


The Louvre Comes to Abu Dhabi

Construction on the Louvre Abu Dhabi is nearing completion. The new museum—which stems from an intergovernmental agreement between Abu Dhabi and France in 2007—is expected to open by the end of the year.

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel has designed a dome-covered museum city that appears to float serenely above the sea. The 180-meter-wide dome is made up of eight interlaced layers. The structure shields visitors from the sun and creates a dappled “rain of light” effect throughout the day.

The museum’s permanent collection—combined with 300 pieces of artwork loaned by French partner museums—will transport visitors from ancient times to the modern day. The idea is to emphasize cultural exchange and shared human experience. Highlights will include a 3,000-year-old Middle Eastern gold bracelet, Paul Gauguin’s masterpiece “Children Wrestling,” and contemporary paintings by Cy Twombly.

Nouvel’s building, inspired by traditional Arabic architecture, features 23 galleries, a temporary exhibition space, an open plaza, café, and restaurant. A 200-square-meter Children’s Museum will provide interactive exhibitions and artwork specifically curated to appeal to younger visitors. Around 55 individual buildings make up the museum city, with the built-up area covering over 87,000 square meters. Multimedia guides and animated maps will provide context and help visitors interpret the exhibits. The three main languages of the Louvre Abu Dhabi will be Arabic, English, and French.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is one of three major museums that the Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC) is developing as part of the cultural district on Saadiyat Island. Project partners include the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Agence France-Muséums, and Musée du Louvre, Paris. Arabtec Construction LLC and Oger Abu Dhabi are the construction contractors.


Retro Fun at London’s Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum in London is collaborating with Time Out publishing group on a series of “After-School Clubs for Grown-Ups” during 2017. Guests over 18 will be welcomed by museum headmasters from 7 to 10 p.m. and invited to join in games and activities based around the natural world. There’s an option to don headphones afterward and dance the night away in the museum as DJs spin tunes for the Silent School Disco (10 p.m.-1 a.m.) Tickets are priced at £30, with the disco costing an extra £18.


'Discover Mexico Park Expands Translation Program

Catering to tourists from around the world, Cozumel’s Discover Mexico Park is working to ensure each visitor feels at home, translating each of the attraction’s signs into five languages—English, Spanish, Italian, French, and German—and providing certified tour guides in those same languages upon request. Guests may now learn about Mexico’s history and cultural traditions in a more accessible manner.


Aquaventuras Welcomes New Sea Lions

Grupo Dolphin Discovery’s Aquaventuras park, located in Vallarta-Nayarit, Mexico, recently received three Patagonian sea lions, Fany, Shasta, and Mily. Dolphin Discovery was asked to take in the rescued animals due to the company’s extensive facilities and award-winning marine animal care. Though older in age, all three sea lions are in good health and quickly adjusting to their new home.


Historic Apollo 11 Command Module Launches Two-Year Tour

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest achievements in human history—man landing on the moon—the Smithsonian is allowing the command module from that space mission to leave the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., for the first time in 46 years. It will be on a traveling exhibition called “Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission.”

The Apollo 11 command module, Columbia, is the only portion of the historic spacecraft to return to Earth from the 953,000-mile voyage and will be the centerpiece of the exhibition. The 5,000-square-foot exhibit will also include 20 mission-related objects, archival images and videos, and a 3-D interactive tour of Columbia.

The exhibition will spend about five months each at Space Center Houston in Texas; St. Louis Science Center in
Missouri; Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. The command module and other exhibition objects will then return to a new permanent gallery at the National Air and Space Museum.


Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens Opens Manatee Critical Care Center

The Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens in Florida is celebrating the completion of its Manatee Critical Care Center (MCCC), which will rehabilitate and temporarily house injured area manatees before they are released back into the wild. The Jacksonville region has a high number of manatees, and the cost and risks involved in moving these animals means the center will be a crucial asset, allowing the zoo to go beyond rescuing the animals and into contributing to the preservation of the species.

The zoo’s Marine Mammal Response Team has a long-held partnership with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission focusing on the rescue of injured and cold-stressed manatees, and transportation of those rescued to rehabilitation facilities. The MCCC will be operated entirely by the zoo, and the facility will be viewable by zoo guests, unless a manatee needs solitude for medical treatment. Manatees’ length of stay at the MCCC will be determined on a case-by-case basis.