Icelab

Exploring the World at Port Macquarie

Touchscreen & web interactive

Client:National Museum of AustraliaVisit the website

Exploring the World at Port Macquarie explores how three people – Annabella Innes, William MacDonnell, and Thomas Dick – investigated, recorded and responded to Port Macquarie’s landscapes, plants, animals and people.

The design aesthetic evokes the hand-coloured photographs, hand-drawn diagrams and typography of the era of the Victorian amateur scientist. The perspective background is built from modern satellite imagery combined with photographs and textures contemporary to the period, but represents the area as it was in the 1800s. Modern interface elements are styled to continue this theme, and the scientific animations draw inspirations from the notebooks of the scientists whose work is featured.

We originally developed this site as a touchscreen interactive for the permanent Landmarks exhibition at the National Museum of Australia. Previously, these projects would have been delivered using Flash: we felt that the time was right to use web standards this time around, making the development pathway simpler, and, critically, later deployment online — and to iOS devices — much easier.

Exploring the World at Port Macquarie was an opportunity to push the power of modern technologies. The entire site is a set of straight-up HTML static files: we’re using CSS transitions for all the animation, AJAX to load pages and a custom JavaScript library to handle the DOM injection and transitions smoothly. To maintain state we’re using the HTML5 History API, so refreshing the page anywhere in the site keeps you where you should be. The behaviour is added on top using unobtrusive JavaScript, and so each page is viewable and searchable on its own. And because is uses web standards, it works beautifully on modern mobile devices. Try it on your new iPhone!

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