(3,000 sq. ft.)
MICROBES: Invisible Invaders, Amazing Allies
|Entering a world of Microbes
It’s beautiful, reassuring and frightening all at once. “Microbes: Invisible Invaders, Amazing Allies,” a blockbuster, traveling exhibit, shares the good and bad of microbes – tiny organisms that live among, around and in us every moment of our lives. Museum visitors enter this world of color, shape and beauty – exploring the world of good and bad microbes.
|“Dr. Medieval” welcomes visitors to Paris Crypt
Enter a world of the not-too-distant past where millions upon millions of people fell victim to one of history’s deadliest microbes. A beaked guide in a re-created Paris catacomb from the 1400’s welcomes museum visitors to a world of invisible invaders. Resembling a physician of that era, the figure wears a beaked mask thought to protect people from the bubonic plague, which killed about 56 million Europeans from 1340 to 1420. A recreation of the mask is displayed for visitors.
|Beaked mask “protected” Europeans from bubonic plague
Physicians in 13th and 14th-century Europe tried fruitlessly to protect themselves from the ravages of the bubonic plague which killed 75 percent of the continent’s population. The exhibit contains a recreation of the mask which features a large “beak” containing sweet smelling flowers and herbs called a posey. The mask with its posey helped to diminish the stench of death and, they thought, protect them from the “poison gas” from the earth that they mistakenly believed caused the plague.
A model of a children’s iron lung offers these two exhibit-goers a look at one of the respiration devices that helped save the lives of many polio survivors in the 1940s and ’50s.
|Seeing the sights of scientists
Exhibit visitors get an up-close and personal view of some common, household objects through the Wentzscope. This specially designed microscope allows visitors to see human hair, table salt and other interesting objects at more than 250 times their actual size. Is THAT what it looks like?!! This interactive encourages children to come up with other things that might be cool to view under a microscope.
|The Microbial Universe is amazing as well as beautiful
This father and daughter study a glow-in-the-dark microbe mural in the Microbial Universe. There is beauty in this microscopic world, and it’s here for everyone to enjoy and experience.
|Floating, 3-D illusion captures the imagination
A young boy shows how visitors can try to capture the floating 3-D image of a virus with their hands. There are six, colorful, 3-D sculptures suspended in space including artist models of microbes such as Ebola, HIV and the flu.
Our bodies are lean, mean fighting machines that use multiple “weapons” in the fight against disease-causing microbes. Visitors walk through a giant mouth to enter this section of the exhibit that examines the body’s natural defenses. Through the dedication and hard work of researchers, thousands of drugs and compounds have been discovered and/or created saving millions of lives. Modern researchers have discovered many organic materials, like penicillium which provide a means for antibiotics and other drugs that protect against disease.
|Defenders of the Castle
Saliva keeps us in the spitting-image of health. We depend upon our hair, skin and even mucous (yuck!) to protect us from disease-causing microbes trying to invade our bodies through our nose, mouth and other orifices. This exhibit makes learning about the importance of hair, skin and other natural defenders a lot of fun.
|Action! Action! We want action!
The action never stops – not when it comes to microbes nor when you’re visiting this exhibit. “Mutating Microbes” explains the “sneaky” ways that microbes change and mutate to make themselves resistant to drugs and other methods of intervention. Visitors also keep active playing “Lines of Defense” to learn more about the natural systems found in the human body that deter disease-causing microbes.
|Helpful Microbes do “Good Deeds,” too
Microbes aren’t all bad guys. This exhibit section reveals how beneficial microbes do good deeds in the kitchen. The oven and refrigerator doors trigger humorous audio sequences about good-guy microbes like the ones that help bread rise and others that make cheese.
Like rivers and streams, some diseases can be tracked geographically on a map. Many of these diseases and the viruses that cause them are dependent upon a variety of factors that must come together to help proliferate the disease. Hot Zones, a colorful section displaying amazing electron microscope photos of virus cells, illustrates the geographic regions of the planet where these diseases significantly affect the population.