Muskoka Discovery Centre: Watershed Wonders
Watershed Wonders is a fresh, bold and interactive exhibit that focuses on the beauty, uniqueness and fragility of the Muskoka Watershed and the environmental threats to its health and future.
- Muskoka Discovery Centre
- Watershed Wonders
- 1,100 sq. ft.
- Design-Build, Exhibit Design, Graphic Design
- Gravenhurst, ON, CA
- Year Completed
The Muskoka Discovery Centre asked R&P to develop an exhibition that would galvanize and inspire their visitors into action by focusing on conservation, preservation, education, and public responsibility for the important ecological gem that is the Muskoka Watershed. R&P was to refresh the Centre’s existing facility with a bold new ecology exhibit that would signal a new voice and role for the Centre as an environmental steward. The exhibit was to be engaging, fun, and interactive for visitors of all ages, while at the same time delivering important messages. It would highlight the beauty and unique features of this vital Watershed and demonstrate how citizen science can make a difference in protecting it for future generations.
Watershed Wonders has defined a new approach that is modern, bold, and contemporary for exhibitions at the Visitor Centre. The design has been inspired by the iconic features, natural colour palette and incredible beauty of the beloved Muskoka landscape. Visitors experience the wealth of biodiversity through a central installation of an iconic Muskoka rocky shoreline, complete with models of a variety of local animals such as a great blue heron, loons, Massasauga rattlers, beavers, and turtles; all highlights for a young audience.
Children can crawl through a tunnel beneath the installation to see real underwater video footage of the life under the lake. This video is paired with a virtual aquarium, showing Muskoka’s underwater world on a huge, interactive touchscreen. Visitors can touch an image of a walleye swimming by and learn more about the species, or touch an image of an anchor to learn about a shipwreck.
The beauty of the environment is paired with messages of environmental stewardship.
Over a dozen audio/visual touchscreen units encourage the visitor to learn, explore and take action. A water management game challenges players to create a virtual flood and then witness its impact on the watershed. An ‘invasive species interactive’ features non-native species having a negative impact on the lakes and the rest of the watershed.
The exhibition works to carefully balance messaging that encourages public responsibility with interactive displays that encourage wonder, exploration, and fun.
Watershed Wonders opened in June 2018 to rave reviews. As this new exhibit demonstrates the Centre’s role as a community hub and as a leader for environmental change, the Discovery Centre has begun a process of reimagining its future. R&P is proud that this project provided a launching pad for the Centre’s forthcoming initiatives. The Muskoka Discovery Centre has secured government funding and is moving ahead with a masterplan to define future expansion, new initiatives, and new exhibitions.
R&P worked with Expographiq for this design-build project. This team approach allowed the client maximum flexibility for innovation in the selection of design solutions, materials, media, and construction. It allowed the design to be tailored to the particular needs and mandate of the Muskoka Discovery Centre. The Centre also collaborated with individuals from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, District of Muskoka Watershed Council, and Friends of the Watershed, all helping to create the content and gather video footage and photos. These groups met weekly, creating a cohesive interpretive plan by sharing their vast knowledge.