Arboreal at Eureka!


We were approached by Eureka!, the National Children’s Museum, to assist with an innovative play space project at their Halifax site.

We were tasked with providing the technical solution that would turn the lower Sparks Gallery of Eureka! into a brand new, interactive and immersive experience for children.

We worked in collaboration with the Eureka! team and Lumen Art Projects. Artists David Glicksman and Moses Journey were based in Los Angeles, so the team crossed continents and time zones to achieve the end result.


We sent our Innovation & Sustainability Lead, Neil Clappison, to visit the museum on multiple occasions, to assess the space and talk through the pros & cons of various options.

Projection is a popular solution for large-scale experiential installations, and seemed the obvious choice for Eureka! However, the project posed unique challenges as Neil explains:

“At the beginning of the process the space wasn’t well suited for projection. The building infrastructure such as venting, pipework, electrical infrastructure and irregular brickwork meant that the seamless surfaces that would be needed for a truly immersive experience were lacking.

As such, we suggested that the room be boarded out with fresh new walls, which would in fact serve two purposes: The first being the flat surfaces needed for projection, and the second being the creation of storage behind the walls, which would house and hide the computers and processing required for the displays.”

a child's feet caught in projected light at arboreal installation, built by Universal Live at Eureka! Halifax

Throw distances were also challenging, and as children (and grown-ups!) would no doubt get very close to the walls while they were exploring, we put together a solution that would mean as few shadows as possible would be cast onto the projection. Neil worked on a multitude of technical drawings to ensure all rigging points, throw distance and angles had been thoroughly explored.

We specified fourteen high spec laser projectors for Arboreal – eleven 6000 lumen Panasonics with specialist short throw 0.6:1 lenses, and three 4000 lumen Epsons with even shorter 0.22:1 lenses for an alcove at the end of the room.

Working with Lumen Art Projects, we also specified, supplied and installed all computing and processing required to bring their creations to life in an interactive way.

We performed rigging calculations, and provided all rigging for the projectors and processing as part of our installation.

technical drawings of projection distances
An unexpected challenge

There was one unforeseen part of the project that called for some unusual thinking, as Neil explains:

“When we saw the first storyboards of Arboreal, we could see the artists were creating a really magical world, and that the adventure the children were embarking on was set at night, with creatures and elements glowing by the light of the moon. I was concerned that projection onto white walls would destroy this illusion of a dark night in the forest – it would be too bright – so we had to think differently. I suggested painting the projection surfaces black, which was pretty much unheard of at the time.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Neil had some work to do convincing the rest of the team that projection onto dark surfaces would even work. He put together a range of prototypes in different shades of grey, and tested them until he found just the right balance between the surface being light enough for projection, but dark enough so as not to spoil the night-time atmosphere the artists had envisioned. The high quality, professional laser projectors proved themselves worthy and were able to perform on even dark grey material.



Working in collaboration with the Eureka! team and artists from Lumen Art Projects, we created an immersive and interactive digital forest, loved by children and their parents when visiting the museum.

The digital projections that adorn the walls and floor of the space provide an opportunity for children to immerse themselves and play in various ways. They can capture selfies while being surrounded by fluttering fireflies, and activate enchanting soundscapes by interacting with stalactites and fungi. Stomping on big buttons on the floor allows them to interact with magical creatures, from friendly frogs to menacing monsters. They can even participate in a giant woodland game of pinball by propelling creatures across the screen, or try to sneak up on mysterious creatures that cling to the tree branches!

We loved being a part of this inspiring project, and still provide ongoing maintenance of the installation to ensure it is in tip top condition for every child that visits.


“Lumen’s goal is to bring the excitement of art created with technology to everyone. We work with artists from our network – all of whom are finalists and award-winners of the Lumen Prize for Art and Technology – so we know we’re getting the most exciting work being created with technology globally. This collaboration with two Lumen artists, Eureka! and Universal Live is our most ambitious project yet and we’re delighted to see that Eureka’s visitors are already in love with it!

Carla Rapoport | Executive Director, Lumen Art Projects

“We were delighted to partner with Eureka! and Lumen Art Projects on Arboreal. We all brought different knowledge and expertise to the project, and together we produced an engaging and technically innovative experience for a broad age group.”

Neil Clappison – Universal Live