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Science and Technology Museum director on high tech exhibits, corporate sponsors, and the new space

Paul Gessell, Ottawa Magazine
October 20, 2017

Christina Tessier is a bright light in Ottawa’s museum community, having worked her way up from managing the small Bytown Museum to various federal posts, including her current job. Steel-toed boots and a hard hat sit by her desk. She can rattle off facts and figures to beat the band. Just don’t ask her to explain quantum computing.

Will there be more emphasis on the present and future than the past?
Absolutely. What’s really interesting is when we make that connection between the past and the present and the future. It is not that the past doesn’t have value, because it absolutely does, and we have a fantastic collection that is based on the past and looks at the history of science and technology. Some of the exhibitions are focused on today and what is coming tomorrow. We open our crystal ball and try to see what the future of S & T innovation looks like. We do that as much as we’re able in the exhibitions, but more important is the programming we overlay that with.

Will there be more high tech in the exhibitions?

Yes. Our philosophy is to take the best of what technology has to offer to see where it fits in with the visitor experience we’re trying to build. See the virtual reality booth, which has an experience related to our 6400 locomotive. We have two mobile apps that feature augmented reality that will be layered over what we’re building in the new museum. In Medical Sensations, there is a cool piece where you’re standing in front of the screen and you can see the bone structure inside your body. You step back, and it puts the muscle systems on; you step back further, and you can see the blood systems. When we can combine a physical experience with digital, that is when we really hit the mark with people. We don’t want them to just walk around pushing buttons. We want them to feel they are active in the experience.

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