Unearth scientific secrets with the digital Inside Explorer table

A deep sea creature’s final meal, a large hairy fly that has evolved to mimic a bee, and a rare meteorite that uncovers the mysteries of Mars, are some of the many intriguing items from the collections at the Natural History Museum in London to go on display in a new digital installation. The installation is based on medical imaging and high performance visualisation technology developed and provided by the Interactive Institute Swedish ICT.

The large multi-touch table combines state of the art 3D x-ray CT scans, captured by the Museum science imaging team, with expert 3D technology to create virtual specimens that can be explored interactively. Zoom, pan, rotate and peel away the layers to reveal the detail inside. 

First to feature will be digital scans of a rare, hairy anglerfish that reveal its final dinner. Museum imaging experts discovered that the anglerfish ate a fish twice its length, giving it an enormous expanded stomach. The actual specimen, preserved in alcohol in a glass jar is on show next to its digital counterpart.

The subjects for the experience have been created and selected by Museum scientists, who will update it regularly with new specimens and scientific discoveries. 

Dr Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum says; ‘Using the latest technology means we can reveal our collections and science as never before. This is a dynamic display for the iPad generation, bringing data directly from Museum labs into the galleries, so everyone can experience the wonder of scientific discovery.’ 

The Inside Explorer system, developed and provided by the Interactive Institute, has previously been used for virtual autopsies and examining ancient mummies, including a temporary display at the British Museum, which finished in March last year. It is the first time that the system has been used as a permanent exhibit in any natural history museum in the world and is currently the only Inside Explorer table on display in London.

David Hughes, from the Interactive Institute commented: ‘Digital interactive exhibits like this are starting to transform how visitors experience museum collections, enabling them to directly interact with on-going science research at the Museum as well as providing a platform to engage with the scientists.’

The permanent Inside Explorer table will be in the Darwin Centre Cocoon from Saturday 5 April and a second mobile table is being used in ‘pop-up’ education activities around the Museum galleries.

Press Images


More information about Inside Explorer



Thomas Rydell, Interactive Institute Swedish ICT, thomas.rydell@tii.se, +46 (0) 707 731709

David Hughes, Interactive Institute Swedish ICT, david.hughes@tii.se, +44 (0) 7802 636304

Natural History Museum Press Office: press@nhm.ac.uk 


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