Octopi are extremely intelligent creatures, and if you’ve ever wanted to see one in action, you can go to an aquarium to watch as they propel themselves through the water and across the bottom of the tank. If you want to get a look at the center of that intelligence, the octopus’ brain, however, well, that’s a bit more difficult – but you can now get a close look at the brain of an octopus at the Smallest Mollusk Museum, currently taking up a minimal amount of space in the Central Library branch of the Brooklyn Public Library. Among the exhibits on display in the six-foot-tall museum is a 3D printed octopus brain.

The Smallest Mollusk Museum was launched last year by MICRO, a nonprofit developing a series of mobile museums. Its goal is to place opportunities for learning in the middle of everyday spaces – like hospital waiting rooms or the DMV, said co-founder Amanda Schochet.

“Kids spend the majority of their time not in the classroom, so if you’re peppering their daily landscape with additional opportunities to learn, and especially to learn in a fun way, their lives just become so much richer, and the information is way more sticky if their parents are learning, too,” Schochet said.

The Smallest Mollusk Museum is the first museum launched by MICRO. In addition to the 3D printed octopus brain, it features things like a holographic cuttlefish, 3D visualizations of the mating of leopard slugs, and collections of mollusk shells that bear clues to their causes of death, such as an octopus piercing, for example. Information is available about famous mollusks such as Ming the clam, who lived to be 507 years old, as well as fun facts about mollusks in general, like the fact that a snail would need a liter of slime to cross the Brooklyn Bridge.

“We show how all these aliens and monsters that people have feared through the ages are based on mollusks, but the things that have made them that way are really understandable systems, and we can use these species to understand ourselves, and understand that they’re not alien at all, they’re just like us 700 million years ago,” Schochet said. “We can begin to understand life at large by looking at a very different form of life. We wanted to provoke people to imagine being something so different from what they are.”

The museum has 15 exhibits and three small movie theatres, and it’s designed in a way that’s meant to appeal to both kids and adults, like any museum would be. MICRO wants to make the mini-museums available in areas that don’t tend to have a high concentration of museums already, like New York City does. The Brooklyn Public Library will be rotating the Smallest Mollusk Museum to other branches throughout the year, and MICRO’s next museum will be the Perpetual Motion Museum, which will be launched some time this year. The third museum will likely be related to chemistry, and future museums may expand into the humanities.

Each museum has an online portal accompanying it, such as the Smallest Mollusk Museum here. Go online and you can listen to an audio tour, check out an online book, and learn more about how you can help mollusks and the environment. Visitors can also submit requests for a MICRO museum in their area.

MICRO has managed to fit a lot of knowledge, and a lot of technology, into a small area – proving that you don’t need a tremendous amount of space to learn a tremendous amount of information.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Source: Hyperallergic/Images: MICRO]

 

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