New augmented reality butterflies part of Strong Museum of Play expansion

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Strong Museum of Play is just two days away from reopening. Last week, News10NBC brought viewers inside the construction zone to check out the new 90,000 square foot building.

But that’s only part of the $75 million renovation project. The expansion also included the parking garage, two outdoor plazas, a new outdoor game garden, and other small bits and pieces.

One of the smaller – but high-tech – additions to The Strong is an augmented reality butterfly experience. It starts in the physical world, with custom-made 3-D printed butterflies hanging from the ceiling. They even light up, thanks to OLED technology supplied by a local company.

To bring them to life, museum-goers can scan a QR code on the ground. With a little help from an augmented reality app, visitors will suddenly find themselves in a virtual butterfly garden. On the ground, colorful circles list the names of families and groups that have adopted these digital critters. Tapping on the bubbles lets visitors see that specific butterfly, which will then soar around the lobby.

Laurie Phelps, Vice President of Guest and Institutional Services at The Strong, said that the expansion has been in the works for a decade.

“The excitement in the museum when you walk in is palpable,” she said. “Especially someone like me whose not good at knowing what a drawing is going to represent. Seeing it here in fruition is just amazing.”

The real butterfly garden is still available to visitors, and has even been tweaked slightly to allow museum-goers to better move around.

The Strong opens back up to the public on Friday at 1 p.m.