By Courtney Murfin, Interpretive Planner
About a year ago, I was brought in to work on a really cool project here at the Museum – an app called ScopifyROM was in the works. When complete it would let visitors look at objects in our galleries in ways that were simply not possible before. Using their smartphones, visitors would be able to “x-ray” things, “restore” ancient objects, and even put skin on a skeleton…
My job as interpretive planner was to figure out how visitors could get the most out of using these “scopes.” The answer was clear. This is all about what we do! The ROM’s collections are full of information about the world – manmade and natural, then and now. And now we put the tools in the palm of your hand to let you investigate them for yourself.
How do we know birds are dinosaurs? Examine the T. rex in ScopifyROM and you’ll see!
How do we know cats were really important in ancient Egypt? Look closely in the app at the cat mummy and find out.
When it came time to choose objects for the app, I approached a bunch of curators and gave them one condition: the pieces had to be things that could be examined in cool ways, and would show evidence about some bigger picture. As you can imagine, the list I got was huge! Whittling it down to a selection of only 15 was tough, especially because some of the pieces that didn’t make the cut were really cool (there was a fossil of a prehistoric horseshoe crab that, when examined closely, revealed what was happening at the exact moment it died).
But the pieces that did make it into the app have phenomenal stories around them.
There’s a coffin from ancient Crete called a larnax, which, as you scope it, reveals a lot about Minoan burial practices. You can even go so far as to lift the lid and look inside. What, or who, was in it? No spoilers here!
My absolute favourite is a fossilized bat skeleton that’s the actual specimen ROM curators used to prove that bats could fly before they could echolocate! It’s a complex issue, but in the app you can scan the skull and see one of the features in the ear that was used as evidence. And if you look closely at its fingers, you’ll see that it had claws where no modern bats have them. The app will tell you why.
That’s one of the great things about my job – I get to find out so much amazing stuff. And that’s what’s so exciting about ScopifyROM – now visitors can too!
To learn more and download, visit our ScopifyROM page.