Reading Public Museum
Hear the personal history of Nefrina, a 2500 year old mummy, in her own words as she comes to life in this immersive hologram museum installation.
Every day, museums and cultural institutions all over the world compete for attention with things like TV, movies, and video games. Maintaining a foothold as a destination requires entertainment on top of education. A few select museums across the country have started using avant garde technology to help break through the noise, retaining and growing their audience. Reading Public Museum now counts themselves among those vanguard institutions thanks to their walking, talking, hologram mummy named Nefrina. We partnered with the experts at the museum, an egyptologist, and local construction company to create this life-sized, permanent installation in which the mummy herself walks out from the darkness and tells you about her life. More than just a life-like hologram, this multimedia exhibit illuminates select artifacts as they align with the details of Nefrina’s story which draws visitors in and encourages them to explore.
A multi-disciplinary adventure from start to finish, this piece challenged us to pre-visualize the exhibit in Augmented Reality, investigate the mummy’s CT scans on a special 3D table at Oley Valley High School, and collaborate with Burkey Construction to craft an intricate physical build with tiny details worthy of a Disney Imagineer. The mummy has been a prized possession of RPM’s collection for nearly a century and they’ve intricately researched her life and cause of death. Thanks to forensic scientist and artist Frank Bender, we even know what she looked like as he and a team from the University of Manitoba created replicas of her skull and facial reconstructions. Because it was critical to factually show what we think she looked like, Philadelphia actress Nichelle Nichols was cast for her uncanny resemblance to the long-dead priestess. Once Nefrina had been cast, her costume meticulously created, and script carefully researched, we used a combination of computer controlled lights and projectors that play high resolution video onto a special hologram film to achieve the final result.