Earthquake House installation with scissor lift

CAS: Earthquake House

Museum Services

Case Study

Problem 

Produce an earthquake simulation experience, built to last, that can fill a vast exhibit hall.

Solution 

OMSI's Design & Production teams collaborated to create a dramatic, robust 25-foot Victorian home that simulates two of the San Francisco Bay Area's biggest earthquakes.

Outcome 

The California Academy of Sciences now has a signature experience to delight their visitors for years to come!

Services 

Experience Design
Exhibit Sales

Project Leads 

Rick Gales

The California Academy of Sciences (CAS) Earthquake House, created by our Design and Production teams, lets visitors experience the sustained tremors of two of the Bay Area’s biggest quakes, the 6.9 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake and the 7.9 magnitude Great San Francisco quake of 1906.

Visitors enter the dining room of a classic Victorian home and travel back in time to experience and compare the iconic earthquakes. Immersed in the historic experience, visitors feel the shaking of a large earthquake, see and hear a swinging light fixtures and clinking china, and witness rocking fish tanks and swaying books.

Concept drawing of Earthquake House

OMSI’s landmark experience for CAS was based on OMSI's Earthquake House, an iconic museum experience for over 25 years. Our team's experience building similar exhibits gave our engineers and designers the expertise to create this new, massive exhibit for CAS, while working closely with the client to create an exhibit that would fit their needs and stand the test of time.

The OMSI Design and Production teams worked together to create an exhibit that would stand the test of time, while also standing tall within the California Academy of Sciences’ major exhibition - Earthquake: Life on a Changing Planet.

 

Our team drew on skills gained through creating similar experiences, such as OMSI’s own permanent Shake House exhibit and numerous traveling exhibitions that incorporate knowledge of visitor experience, as well as innovative engineering and design principles. We succeeded in supporting a short development timeline as staff knew what approaches to take. Our engineers employed knowledge of systems and mechanical engineering, and conducted structural analysis and dynamic modeling to ensure the success and safety of the Earthquake House.

 

New methods and materials were also considered and included. The Earthquake House required creative solutions to electronic controls, lightweight wall structures and ceiling scrim. The rattling props inside the experience proved an additional challenge for the Production team. Everyday objects inside the Earthquake House - dishes, books, light fixtures, and a fish bowl! - were engineered to withstand six magnitude seven earthquakes every hour!

 

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