Exploring biology In the Dark

The Waterloo Region Museum&rsquo;s new feature exhibit <em>In the Dark </em>opened last Friday<em>, </em>Feb. 5<em>.</em> The exhibit investigates the many forms of life on Earth that spend their waking lives in partial or complete darkness.</p>

In the Dark focuses on four biomes: deep ocean, cave, desert, and forest. Each biome inspects a representative set of organisms and the adaptations they have made to survive and thrive in their respective environments. The exhibit, covering 5,000 square feet, displays  various information about these adaptations, exploring each biome. One of its largest features, however, is its interactive components. From trying to match a squid’s colour to its environment to experiencing echolocation like a bat, In the Dark has various hands-on activities to complement its observational pieces.

“It’s the kind of experience we can offer that’s a little out of the ordinary,” said James Jensen, supervisor of collections and exhibits for the museum. “We try to find … experiences that are not readily available to the visiting public.”

In the Dark represents somewhat of a departure from the Waterloo Region Museum’s usual subject matter. Its permanent gallery details the history of Kitchener, Waterloo, and Cambridge, and many of its temporary exhibits — such as Beer!, the museum’s Summer 2015 feature — are also concerned with local topics. In the Dark’s discussion of biology presents a different type of experience for museum-goers. According to Jenson, the exhibit “talks about something that people can go and discover on their own once they leave the museum,” connecting visitors to the natural environment and giving them the tools necessary to understand the areas around them more thoroughly.

Although In the Dark is geared towards families in the area, the museum is always looking to include as wide a demographic as possible. Being situated away from main roads and bus routes, it is often overlooked as a day trip destination. In the case of university students, “there’s no need to have a car if you’re at Laurier and Waterloo, and live nearby the campuses,” Jensen said. 

The museum, though, does make a special effort to put on events that appeal to university-age people. In the case of In the Dark, the museum is planning an evening event called Eating in the Dark

“Some caterers are going to come in, and we’re going to set up one of our really big classrooms,” Jensen said about their plans. “We’re going to cover all the windows, turn off the lights, give people blindfolds, and [the caterers will] serve a meal in which you have to eat with your hands in the dark … it should be a lot of fun.” 

In the Dark will remain open until May 8.