Ideum Working with ABQ BioPark to Create New Penguin Exhibits

STEM Education Takes Center Stage

Ideum Working with ABQ BioPark to Create New Penguin Exhibits
King Penguin swimming in the ocean.

by Becky Hansis-O'Neill, Senior Producer April 17th, 2018

Ideum is proud to be working with the ABQ BioPark and the New Mexico BioPark Society to create educational exhibits for the new Penguin Chill exhibition, which will feature Gentoo, King, and Macaroni penguins. The exhibition focuses on a straightforward and powerful idea: Penguins’ lives are hard, and climate change is making them even harder. During their visit, BioPark guests will take on the role of scientists on an expedition to research penguins. Visitors will learn about the challenges penguins face, the many ways in which these amazing creatures have adapted to meet those challenges, and how a changing climate affects penguins and their environments.

An artistic rendering of the science area in the exhibition’s simulated research vessel.An artistic rendering of the science area in the exhibition’s simulated research vessel.
As part of their journey, guests will visit the Research Vessel BioPark where they can board a simulated icebreaker, investigate detailed 3D penguin models, and collect virtual data from Antarctica. They can also make remote calls from the vessel to scientists doing actual research on Antarctic conservation. In addition, the project team is developing a dynamic simulation of the Aurora Australis which will dazzle visitors with overhead curtains of light. The experience’s light patterns will change in response to actual astronomical data gathered by NOAA. Ideum was pleased to partner with S2 Associates Inc. and Scientific Art Studio to bring the exhibition’s experiences to life.

In the upper auditorium, guests will observe penguins under the shifting lights of the Aurora Australis. Sketch by S2 Associates Inc.In the upper auditorium, guests will observe penguins under the shifting lights of the Aurora Australis. Sketch by S2 Associates Inc.

Ideum’s design team created 3D penguin models for each species explored in the exhibits.


As Ideum Creative Director Jim Spadaccini notes: a unique mix of technology and traditional exhibit design is required to make exhibits like this truly immersive.

I am really excited about the approach our team took here in creating such immersive and compelling environments. Having visitors board a realistic looking research vessel and base station is great way to connect with younger audiences and get them excited about penguins and their habitats. If we can get visitors engaged and they can feel empathy for these animals, it can lead to the kind of outcomes the BioPark, and all of us involved in the project, would like to see.

Dr. Jefferson Hinke of the Antarctic Ecosystem Division/SFWSC of NOAA donated retired research equipment to the Penguin Chill exhibit. Pictured is a penguin flipper tag and a time, temperature, and depth recorder.Dr. Jefferson Hinke of the Antarctic Ecosystem Division/SFWSC of NOAA donated retired research equipment to the Penguin Chill exhibit. Pictured is a penguin flipper tag and a time, temperature, and depth recorder.
We will post an update when the exhibition is complete. While it is still under construction, community members can support Penguin Chill education programs and conservation initiatives that protect wild penguins. Click here for more information, email us at [email protected],  or call 505-764-6297.