There is hardly a child – and not many adults – who wont put two hands together
in front of a light source in a dark room and turn the shadows into a long-eared
rabbit or a toothy crocodile. Creating objects from shadows is quite
Jerusalem’s Bloomfield Science Museum – which has a quarter
of a million visitors annually – has taken advantage of that natural curiosity
about light and shadow by preparing an unusual exhibition. It is based on one
conceived at the Museum of Science and Industry in Paris (in partnership with
the Georges Pompidou Center) – but the Bloomfield exhibition was designed and
constructed by its own staffers in their workshop.
Half a dozen rooms,
some large and some smaller, have been constructed inside the museum to depict
the home of the fictional character Archibald Ombre (Archibald Shadow) – a
rather eccentric doll of a character who lies in an iron bed suspended from the
ceiling and snores loudly. Living in the 1930s, he tends to prefer darkness and
collects natural-history specimens, artwork and a variety of other objects that
look different when light sources are beamed at them.
Visitors to the
exhibition – from toddlers who will have fun but won’t understand the scientific
principles through older children and, of course, adults who will – are able to
use their imaginations to view and manipulate objects to create shadows and even
create odd figures with their bodies or parts of them. The exhibition, already
popular this summer, will be open through Hanukka, according to Bloomfield
deputy director-general Dea Brokman, who also curated the interactive
The “Games in Light and Shadow” exhibition, in fact, begins
even before one enters the Givat Ram building, because near the giant marble
ball that rotates at a touch as water runs under it, there’s a place where
visitors can become part of a sundial. Just stand on the part of a metal plate
attached to the rock pavement that’s printed with the name of the current month
– and your own shadow, projected on a curved piece of metal, tells you what time
Up the stairs inside the museum, you will encounter Archibald’s
French villa. In the entrance hall, make sure to pick up the phone and hear his
welcoming message in Hebrew, English and Arabic. Continue through the other
rooms in the house and you will see a shadow of a shadow, light boxes with a
mysterious double image and a shadow movie. Play shadow games with your hands,
sit in a darkroom and print your own shadow, learn about the lunar eclipse and
astronomical shadows and enter his garden of shadows to see what animal
creations you can make with your own hands.
Enter a room where visitors
play with their own shadows in an interactive computerized work of art. You’ll
notice how your shadow changes as you move.
Although it’s usually a no-no
to stand between a projector and a screen – a frequent annoyance in conference
halls with Power- Point displays – here one is encouraged by Archibald to do it.
There are two main activities with screens and projectors. When you pass one
screen, you will see your own shadow filmed and projected on the screen, when
you pass the second, your body’s outline is chosen and then retransmitted. Both
children and adults will be tempted to pass through this time and time
The odd Frenchman professor’s explanation is scribbled on a
blackboard: “To get a shadow, you need a light source, an object in light and a
surface on which you can see the shadow.”
In the living room, sit on the
chair and notice that the shadow produced by your nose becomes larger and
larger. The light on the ground and the slanted lighting on the wall causes your
head to be monstrous. Visitors will learn that shadows don’t always look like
the objects that cast them – they can sometimes be misleading.
head under the curtain and use the side buttons to turn on the lights under your
chin or on top of your forehead.
The shadows formed by the slanted light
highlight your facial features to create a funny face.
Look into an open
drawer to find out what’s casting the shadow. Seen from above, it’s often hard
to realize what you’re looking at, but the shadows produced in the drawer help
you figure out what the objects really are.
A camel can be viewed
standing on its head. Focus on the upside-down image on the white surface. The
image is upside down because the rays passing through the center of the lens
don’t change their direction.
WHEN YOU enter the Room of Wonders, you’ll
find a cabinet of curiosities that Archibald has collected over the years from
all around the world. The museum either borrowed them from the Hebrew
University’s Givat Ram campus or the objects – feathers, a shark’s jaw, large
seashells, dried fish and lizards, primitive devices and more – were lent to the
exhibition by staff members’ relatives and other local collectors. In the
darkened room, with light sources dispersed among them, the static objects take
on a whole new look and seem to move.
In Archibald’s kitchen, just use
your imagination, and cooking utensils become toys that you use, with shadows,
to tell stories.
To cook up an intriguing shadow, choose your utensils
carefully, warm up the light, sprinkle with color and stir gently. It’s possible
to create colored – not just monochromatic – shadows. Arrange colored bottles in
front of the lamp so their colors blend. Try to create new colors. The colored
liquid in each bottle changes the light that passes through it. A colander in
the kitchen can be used to filter light and create a star-studded
You can even look into a cupboard and create scurrying “cockroaches”
using a cover with holes shaped like bugs. When light passes through the holes,
blobs of light are created, seeming as though the creatures are running up the
sides of the cupboard.
In Archibald’s lab, use devices he has prepared to
discover the characters of light and shadow. You will also get a picture of your
shadow that you can take home as a souvenir.
In the bathroom, you will
see colored shadows of yourself and you will even stop drops of water in midair
by turning a dial.
When the flicker rate is synchronized with the drip
rate, the eye perceives the drop at one particular point in the path of its
fall, so it appears to be frozen in space, Brokman explains as she accompanies
this visitor on a tour.
RUSSIAN MATRIOCHKA dolls, each of which sit
inside a larger one, are placed on a table. You are invited to create a single
shadow with five dolls as you spin the turntable.
When the largest doll
is in the front, the others sit in her shadow. When a small dot is in front,
each doll casts a shadow on the one behind.
Ship models complete with
white masts and string should be moved back and forth to change the size of
their shadows. A mask nearby that is made of wire is played with by slowly
moving a lamp close to it. As the shadows move on the screen, you feel as if
you’re actually inside a large mask, taking the place of the lamp.
darkened greenhouse, a frog who was once a prince sits on the floor and sounds
his “ribbit” croaks, looking much larger as a spotlight is placed behind
Look upwards to see the moon, stars and even space. The lunar
“praxinoscope” presents the phases of the moon in fast-forward.
from Earth, the maximum that you can see is half a moon, here, you can view it
as a ball. Solar eclipses becomes understandable as the moon passes between the
Earth and the Sun in perfect alignment.
The moon’s shadow is cast on
Earth. When the Moon hides the Sun from your view, the eclipse is created. You
can tell stories using your own shadow and send birds aloft. There is also a
comfortable, cushioned place at once side where you can rest and watch shadowy
figures move about.
One of the highlights is being able to write on a
special board with a “light” pen. In addition, numerous Israeli artists
including Tamar Harpaz, Borris Oicherman, Leora Laor Sgan-Cohen, Baron Uri
Sinai, Uriel Miron Tokatly Talia, Maya Attoun Yuval Dax, Koby Sibony, Itamar
Mendes and Jan Tichy contributed their interactive art contraptions to the
exhibition. The show also features interactive video installations by Hanna Ben-
As one’s life is depicted by light and shadow, the
exhibition is an appropriate one to view during the High Holidays of