Beneath the Surface: Burial 11

Touchscreen interactive uncovers ancient Panamanian burial


Interactive, Touchscreens, Development, Design, 3D Modeling, Animation / Illustration

After collaborating on Maya 2012 and Native American Voices, Bluecadet was excited to re-team with Penn Museum for their new exhibition Beneath the Surface: Life, Death, and Gold in Ancient Panama.

We designed the Burial 11 touchscreen interactive, which invites visitors to recreate the 1940 excavation by Penn Museum archaeologist J. Alden Mason that uncovered thousands of the Coclé people’s spectacular grave offerings.


Two Burial 11 touchscreens complement a large, abstract model of the excavation site, along with a display of nearly two dozen excavated objects. Visitors can manipulate a custom 3-D rendering of the famous dig and find Points of Interest, or they can view the dig through the lens of Mason’s own journal, following a timeline of events that happened during the actual excavation. Nearly a dozen Points of Interest on each layer reveal where objects were found; touching each Point of Interest unlocks historic information and multiple views of the pottery, pendants, plaques, and other ancient treasures Mason discovered. Visitors can also select a special feature that shows the archaeologist’s sketches, traced on top of each layer.

How did the people of Burial 11 die? Who buried these people? How were the bodies dressed and prepared for burial? In addition to the Points of Interest, the Burial 11 content illuminates these and other intriguing questions. We worked closely with Penn Museum’s scholars to ensure that the information was engaging and authoritative; we also provided a platform for user-friendly content updates and translation into other languages as the exhibition tours internationally.

“Special thanks to you and your team for creating such a well-designed interactive in Burial 11. The approach developed by Bluecadet has allowed for a great deal of content to be organized and presented in way that is not only logical, but engaging and beautiful as well.”

Kate Quinn, Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs, Penn Museum

The Burial 11 interactive enables the Penn Museum to share a wealth of information about an ancient site and objects on display, which would not have otherwise fit in the exhibition space. Bluecadet worked diligently and efficiently to deliver the touchscreens on-budget in around six months—seemingly a blink, relative to a culture that thrived more than 1,000 years ago.


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