No matter where in the world, children have always been fascinated by all kinds of animals, from those commonly seen in everyday life to rare animals from far off countries and even extinct creatures from ancient times. Now children can physically experience the wonders and amazing skills of various animals at an exhibition called "Move! into the wild life." Dentsu organized the exhibition as a long-term event held over four months at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation in Tokyo's Odaiba district, and it was very well received as a highly innovative exhibition combining both entertaining and educational aspects.
The purpose and goals of the exhibition
The exhibition vividly demonstrated how the lives and habitats of animals are completely different from those of human beings, eliciting surprised voices among visitors throughout the venue. For example, a girl wearing a pill bug costume shouted, "The ants are scary!," while father dressed up in a penguin costume called out to his family, "Were ancient sharks really this big?" as he crawled out of the mouth of a megalodon. In all-new ways, the visitors could directly experience such unexpected sensations with their entire bodies without the use of video games or virtual reality technology, leaving vivid impressions that cannot be obtained through other events today.
Small Garden: Children wear a pill bug suit and take cover while under attack by imaginary ants.
Survival Ocean: Visitors wear a penguin costume and slide down a sheet of ice into the mouth of a megalodon, a giant shark from ancient times.
Although the many scenes like those described above may, at first glance, be regarded merely as pretend play on a grand scale, there was a very serious intention behind the design of the Move! into the wild life exhibition. The goal of the event was to encourage people to think about biodiversity, which is easy for children to imagine, in an age when understanding others is becoming increasingly important. Through this exhibition, we tried to have people not only observe and objectively relate to others, but also understand the perspectives of others by putting them in situations in which they act out the behaviours of animals.
If we try to imitate the behaviors of animals that differ from us in terms of size and body shape, we naturally become curious as to why those animals developed their ways of life. To satisfy the curiosity of visitors and provide them with a scientific understanding of such facts, we set up large panels featuring illustrated explanations throughout the exhibition space. The panels are attractively designed and graphically describe the lives and habitats of animals.
Their content was taken from the Move series of encyclopedias, which takes children on a wondrous and thrilling quest through the animal kingdom. Published by Kodansha Co., Ltd., this series has become a huge hit in Japan with sales of almost three million copies to date, setting it apart from other educational books for children. The series comes bundled with a set of wildlife DVDs produced by NHK, Japan's national public broadcasting organisation and a world-class producer of documentaries and news specials. Impressive videos from the DVDs were used extensively in the exhibition.
Kodansha has published 27 issues of its Move series of encyclopedias, boasting sales of 2.9 million copies. Each issue comes with a wildlife DVD produced by NHK.
Realizing a collaborative venture involving different businesses
Creatively conveying sophisticated concepts through pretend play was the starting point for the content of this project, which Dentsu managed after taking the lead in establishing it as a collaborative venture involving companies engaged in different businesses. To give people the experience of becoming different animals, the project needed fresh ideas, corroboration for those ideas, artistic talent, and countless productions. Much like a joint venture, production and planning proceeded over a period of three years with prolonged negotiations along the way, with creators coming from Dentsu, content editors from Kodansha, and designers from NHK Enterprise Co., Ltd. Although each company's members experienced difficulties in producing the innovative exhibits, everyone on the team worked enthusiastically until the end to create things that were completely original, driven by the same curiosity as the children who would eventually visit the exhibition. Perhaps the universal curiosity about exotic things totally unlike ourselves is what led to the excitement among so many visitors and people involved in the event.
The exhibition attracted a huge amount of mass media coverage as soon as it opened at the end of November 2017 at the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, which is located in the central Tokyo district of Odaiba. Television reporters took footage of the exhibition and tried out its attractions, while detailed stories of experiences and surreal photos appeared continuously on the internet, including countless personal photos on social networking sites.
These images were effective in conveying how visitors can learn a great deal about animals while having fun at the event. About 200,000 children and adults visited the exhibition and experienced its attractions over the 113 days it was held at the museum.
Wonder Jungle: Children can run over a specially designed pond like a basilisk, a rare lizard that can run across water.
Miracle Savanna: Participants take cover while sneaking up on a zebra.
On the momentum of its success in Tokyo, we received requests to stage the Move! into the wild life exhibition in places all over Japan and even in other countries. At present, it is being held at Hirakata Park in Osaka. Dentsu acquired the global (including Japan) format sales rights and the sponsorship rights in May of this year, and plans to continue marketing the event going forward. Directly experiencing the lives of animals is a concept that will never grow old, and we hope to bring that excitement to more and more people around the world in the future.
Nobuko Funaki, Creative Planning Division 4, Dentsu