Lapworth Museum of Geology

Science Communications, Visitor Attractions


Dating back to 1880, the Lapworth Museum of Geology is one of the oldest specialist geological museums in the UK and throughout its long history has provided a valuable resource for students, schools and colleges, research workers, enthusiasts and anyone with an interest in, or desire to learn, about geology. In 2016 a £2.7 million re-development transformed this grand old institution for the 21st century, bringing a fresh perspective on the collection and setting the scene for visitors to connect with the rich past of the institution, and indeed the very fabric of the planet itself. It was this connection with the planet that Pufferfish helped bring into focus.


Working closely with exhibition designers Real Studios and content designers Squint Opera, Pufferfish provided the canvas for the creation of an interactive globe through which visitors could browse data visualisations and animations pertaining to key earth science stories. The team at Squint Opera created a series of custom pieces exploring the Earth’s geological history and environment, designed to be viewed in conjunction with an interactive touch screen containing deeper level information and interactive controls. The content was supported by Pufferfish’s standard PufferPlay and Play+ software, handling the warping of content to the sphere and facilitating a simplified development process in which Squint Opera were able to devote their considerable talents to the pieces as standard “flat” motion inputs.

Balancing Lapworth’s ambitions to have a statement display in a space with natural light present, available footprint and overall budgets lead the team to the PufferSphere 900. Integrated into a customised plinth to anchor the PufferSphere in the location, the installation team created a destination to pull visitors into the experience with ample space for groups to gather around the globe aiding conversation and communication around the key messaging.

Summary of outcomes

Following the redevelopment, the museum was shortlisted for the world's biggest museum prize, Museum of the Year 2017. Going head-to-head against museums giants such as Tate Modern, the prize is one of the most prestigious awards in the industry.
The museum team have attributed the addition of modern technology and interactive displays in helping to bring the story of evolution to life. “This has been a transformational refurbishment which dramatically changes the way in which we interact with our visitors,” says Jon Clatworthy, Lapworth Director, “The new exhibits provide a far more hands-on approach to learning about the 3.5 billion years of history we showcase here.”


“Intuitive, engaging and superbly thought through…”  - Matt Williams, Museums Journal.

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