OMSI's warehouse-sized new exhibit, CSI: The Experience
, prominently features a mock-up of a seedy alley strewn with a bag of cocaine (or possibly MDMA, only forensic analysis will tell) and a woman with tire treads imprinted across her torso.
Though it may be stretching the limits of kid-friendly, The Experience acknowledges OMSI's kid clientele by wisely excising most of CSI
's television sheen in favor of meticulous, hands-on experimentation.
After a video introduction from CSI
star Michael Petersen (as CSI supervisor Gil Grissom), guys in white lab coats and OMSI badges direct museum patrons through one of three life-sized dioramas of a crime scene. Once inside the diorama, you're instructed to examine the scene with an analyst's eye, take notes and proceed to the exhibit's central feature, an enormous crime lab/autopsy room. There you're invited to run simplified tests on everything you noted, from white powder to fly droppings.
There's a distinct difference between the attractive actors who play crime scene investigators on TV (and who guide you through the museum exhibits via flatscreens) and the OMSI orderlies on hand to explain the lab's testing methods. CSI: The Experience
is thus the clear winner in terms of the forensic process' believability. The exhibit has very little of the TV show's flashy visuals, saturated colors and gratuitous violence. What it retains amounts to a pretty fun large-scale science project, with a bit of justifiable violence scattered throughout.
The Experience, sponsored by Comcast, cost several million dollars (it shows) and took a crew of 10 about a week and a half to assemble from already-constructed parts trucked in from the last museum to house them. It opens tomorrow (Saturday May 23) and runs through September 13. If you and your kids enjoy the show's grisly details but lament its non-interactive format, this is the event for you.