Interactive exhibit on Hox genes displayed at the atrium

The Marie Christine Kohler Fellows are proud to announce the opening of the “Genetic Symphonies: the building Hox of life” exhibit currently located at the UW–Madison Genetics Department. Graduate students Katharine Hubert and Sharon Tang created the interactive Art+Science Fusion exhibit at UW Makerspace during their participation in the Marie Christine Kohler Fellowship at the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery (WID).

The exhibition is an interactive display and representation of Hox genes, which are important for developmental processes in both vertebrates (humans and animals with a spine) and invertebrates (animals without spines). There are 13 groups of Hox genes (Hox1, Hox2… all the way to Hox13) that help guide development as they signal what gets built and when. Unlike other genes, Hox genes must be activated in a certain order, from top to bottom for development to occur correctly.

This installation invites viewers to explore the concept of Hox gene expression by interacting with the artwork. Users can engage with the installation through a control podium by using buttons to activate music and lights simultaneously. When the buttons are pressed in the correct order it will simulate the activation of the corresponding Hox gene group on the display panel. Press all 13 buttons correctly, and an elegant symphony will play and reveal a silhouetted human figure in the panel.

The exhibition will be at the Genetics Department until the end of September before it is moved to its next location, Steenbock library!

Learn more about the science behind the art at the exhibit or here!