Universe of Particles

Permanent Multimedia Exhibition at CERN

In order to communicate its complex themes, which are often difficult to grasp, CERN has installed a multimedia exhibition in its 'Globe of Science and Innovation': the dark, seemingly boundless 'Universe of Particles' with its shining blue spheres, which prove on closer examination to be show cases, interactive stations or seats. The miniature universe has been realised by the scenographers ATELIER BRÜCKNER together with iart and tegoro solutions (since 2013 part of iart).

The exhibition 'Universe of Particles' extends over 450 square meters of a 27 metre-high dome-shaped pavilion that has stood in Geneva since 2004 and that was previously used at Swiss Expo 02. The pavilion, built from the wood used for Peter Zumthor's Swiss pavilion at Expo 2000 in Hanover, was designed by Thomas Büchi and Hervé Dessimoz as the 'Palace of Equilibrium'. Today it provides an arena for the interactive staging of complex scientific theories, experiments and research tools in order to make them comprehensible for different audiences. Carrying on from the conventional pictorial representation of atoms, all objects in the exhibition are round or spherical: the show cases, the seats with audio information, the interactive stations, the projectors' cases and the centrally placed platform, which functions as a projection area.

Interactive Spheres

Three different kinds of interactive spheres facilitate simple, playful access to the exhibition's content. Through interaction, two and three-dimensional pictorial words can be dynamically resized: Earth can be reduced to a smaller format while nano worlds can be enlarged by means of renderings. There is a round interactive table at which visitors can explore the functioning of the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) particle accelerator concealed 100 meters underground. Different visitors can simultaneously open up different thematic fields or can slide them across the table's surface to other people who are there. The globe 'Interactive Sphere' enables visitors intuitively to access globally relevant facts, such as worldwide cooperation initiatives and CERN's history from 1949 to 2010.

One completely new element is a spherical interface for two and three-dimensional pictorial worlds and text (the 'Sphere of Science'), which, depending on the user's navigation, seem to arrange themselves spatially in the ball. A field projected onto the translucent ball from the inside creates the illusion of an oval window offering a vista into the ball. A city spreads out into the ball's depths, the universe opens up, heavenly bodies move towards the viewer. Navigation takes place by means of clearly recognisable interactive features, which appear in the projected picture and react to a light touch. In this way, the subject matter can be explored playfully and new knowledge can be acquired intuitively.

Exhibition Site

CERN, Geneva

Project Phases

Conception, Planning, Realisation and Operation

Project Duration

1 year


1 July 2010

Exhibition Duration

Permanent exhibition

Exhibition Area

450 m²