New CSI Exhibit Dazzles and Educates


CSI: The Experience lets visitors play the role of a crime scene detective. (Courtesy of CSI Exhibit)

Those interested in shows like  “CSI,” “Dexter,” or “Psych” may be interested in the newest exhibit Discovery Times Square (DTS) has to offer. CSI: The Experience takes eager participants into the world of crime solving using virtual crime scenes and touch screen computers.

DTS is New York City’s first large-scale exhibition center presenting visitors with limited-run, educational and immersive exhibit experiences while exploring the world’s defining cultures, art, history and events. More than a museum, DTS has featured a renowned line-up of exhibitions including Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Workshop and King Tut: Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs.

Originally opening on Oct. 1,  CSI: The Experience is a 12,000 square-foot experience that was developed in consultation with 175 forensic science experts to combine the entertainment of the hit television show with real-life scientific principles and investigative techniques.

The experience itself is something different altogether. At the start of the exhibit, one of the attendees offers you a case, which you can solve with a friend or even a group of people. You are also given the option to wear a CSI vest, although it serves no actual purpose. From there you get the opportunity to observe the scene of the crime.

At this point, the exhibit is fascinating. An incredible amount of detail was put into staging these scenes, as they are very intricate and based on real crimes. For my particular case, a car had crashed through the side of a house, killing both the driver and a victim watching TV. An actual car was brought in and dented up to make it look more realistic. Alongside it were pieces of debris, blood and, of course, easy-to-miss clues that can help you with your investigation.

After you finish observing the scene, you go to the forensic stations that are assigned to your specific case. You are asked to examine blood spatter, match DNA and observe the scenes at which the crimes were committed. These are very simple and seem more for children; it feels like they are holding your hand through the whole process. These are made up of small exercises to determine clues at the scene of the crime and are very simple for anyone over the age of nine to figure out. Using the data you find and log on your notepad, you will be asked at the end of the exhibit to determine a suspect. Finally, once you have reached a conclusion as to what had happened, you fill out a quiz using your notes.

This hands-on experience plunges exhibit goers deep into the science of solving crimes. Among the 15 forensic lab stations are hands-on activities including DNA, blood splatter, fingerprint analyses, toxicology reports and firearms analysis, as well as special effects. Alongside these stations are educational videos featuring CSI: Crime Scene Investigation creator Anthony E. Zuiker, past and present cast members, including Eric Szmanda, Marg Helgenberger, Jorja Fox, George Eads and real-life forensic experts. CSI: The Experience is designed for guests 12 years of age or older. Multimedia portions of the exhibit can be presented in English with Spanish subtitles.

It was a little disappointing that such detail and work could be out into an exhibit that takes less than a half hour to complete. It would seem that the targeted audience there was essentially tourists with rudimentary abilities in understanding simple tasks. Adult and young adult-oriented subject matter coupled with the elementary skills needed to figure out each station made the experience a bit frustrating. This aside however, the experience is educational and somewhat fun. There is a lot of information about interesting topics for anyone, from psychology majors interested in the criminal psyche to people who just watch shows like “Dexter” or “CSI.”

CSI: The Experience
When: Now through Jan. 1, Sun.-Thur. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Discovery Times Square 226 W. 44th St.
Price: General Admission is $25 per person; senior are $21.50 and children are $19.50
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