PacSci Perspectives


Get In Tune With Nature

by | Jul 30, 2018

If you’ve visited Pacific Science Center in the last year or so, you may remember the pathway to Building 4, formerly the Special Exhibition Hall, being closed off from guests while we had a traveling exhibit. We have since re-purposed Building 4 to be a venue for new virtual and augmented reality experiences that rotate every day, as well as a place where startup-in-residence Hyperspace resides as they design and build their extended reality experience. Along with the change to Building 4, we reopened the pathway as a new exhibit space and have installed a serene sensory garden for guests to immerse their senses and get in tune with nature while on their way to explore the rotating experience series, What is Reality.

In this quiet corner of the Courtyard, you’ll discover arches covered in vines that lead to large planter bowls filled with plants that were specially chosen to ignite your senses of touch, smell and hearing. The use of simple signage was chosen to invite guests to be hands-on, have their ears open and their noses at the ready, without being too flashy – letting guests interact with the plants on their own terms.

Our horticulturist, Jillian Weed, said of the plants chosen, “We chose the vines so that they can give the feeling of entry into a magical horticultural space. The herbs, sage and mint, to activate our sense of smell. The grass, Mexican Feather Grass, to heighten our awareness of the breeze that is constantly flowing through the Courtyard. The ground cover, Brass Buttons, is soft to the touch like a natural carpet, and snapdragon flowers when pinched have a playful effect, and the Sensitive Plant shies away from the slightest touch.”

Why did we choose to install a sensory garden? Our living exhibits manager, Sara Moore, explains, “We wanted to create a garden that welcomed guests to Building 4 and would stimulate unconventional thinking – the kind of worldview that What Is Reality asks us to take on. We wanted a planted space that was about our interactions with the plants, that was experiential rather than text-heavy and that as it fills in, creates a transitional space into the exhibit hall.” The sensory garden is also a way for us to provide guests “a unique space where the senses are nurtured and curiosity flows naturally from the intriguing encounters with nature, and a retreat where people can watch the High Rail Bike, Danger Science or Water Works from a bench and hopefully feel like they could stay there soaking up science all day long.”

On your next visit to the Science Center, make sure to take a moment to relax and sit back in the delightfully shaded sensory garden or touch, smell and really listen to the plants specially picked for you to enjoy!