You had me at parachuting cats. That was enough of a weird and wonderful idea to get me to visit Mod Museum in Adelaide, a unique science and technology museum at the University of South Australia.
This incredible concept showcases how research shapes our understanding of the world and affects our future, it’s a very hands on place with plenty of interactive displays and is the only public science and creativity space in South Australia.
But back to the parachuting cats, this comical exhibition can be seen dangling above you in the foyer as soon as you enter the building on North Terrace, but there is a serious side behind this idea called ‘Operation Cat Drop’. The display is a lighthearted look at what can happen sometimes when humans disrupt complex systems and refers to a time in the 1950s when people in Borneo suffered a malarial outbreak which the World Health Organisation (WHO) sprayed DDT to kill the malaria carrying mosquitos.
Not only did it do that, but it also killed wasps, geckos and cats which led to a rat population explosion and outbreaks of typhus and plague. To fix these problems the WHO parachuted live cats into Borneo ~ this was called Operation Cat Drop.
The exhibition is very clever and they have taken it away on a comical tangent giving the cat’s commando status including ranks and service files.
MOD Museum has seven gallery areas over two floors and the current exhibitions all revolve around the theme ‘It’s Complicated’. Amongst the 7 exhibitions, they include co-evolution, showing as species interact in a complex system, they evolve in response to each other, and Adaptation, how complex systems change to better suit the environment. Basically it is a lot of fascinating science facts in an art meets science mix where interaction is encouraged.
One of the brilliant exhibitions includes a room sized display that shows planetary data on a sphere surrounded by touchscreens. From the touchscreens you can select different options to see current world weather conditions and other global climate features. Screens lining this room show underwater vision of fish and other creatures living in South Australian waters.
Another particularly beautiful display is Kudlilla, the current season name in the Kaurna language of the indigenous people of the Adelaide plains. The night sky stars seen during the months of July and August are explained as you are taken on a journey of star lore of the Kaurna people in a beautiful visual display.
Then there is ‘Cave of Sounds’ a section where new and unusual musical instruments have been created and are operated by using shadows, light and your whole body to make sounds and music. It has you wondering when you enter something called the cave of sounds and are faced with the question ‘What might emerge’, knowing that you are using your body! 😂
I’ve only recently learnt that this future focused and thought provoking museum existed but it’s certainly on my radar now to revisit. Its opening hours are Tuesday to Saturdays 10am to 4pm an there is an excellent on site café, Food Lore which serves up delicious food, coffees and cakes.
This innovative museum of discovery has two seasonal exhibitions and is one to remember when you’re visiting Adelaide.