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Don’t forget your towel: Splash Dome to open Friday

Virtual exhibit awes and informs visitors about Nova Scotia's iconic schooner Bluenose

New waterfront exSPHEREience to make a splash Friday.
New waterfront exSPHEREience to make a splash Friday.   Sydney Jones

Update: Splash Dome opens at 3 p.m. Friday.

A new Halifax attraction is making waves on the waterfront.

Bluenose: The Legend Lives, a four-dimensional immersive experience in a 50 by 25-foot dome, opened its doors to media and government officials for a preview Tuesday morning.

With wireless headsets and 360 degrees of vision, audience members were invited to rock back in their plush red chairs and hop aboard Bluenose II, the iconic Nova Scotia sailing ship, for a full-body sensory experience.

The floors rumbled with footsteps as traditional East Coast music played in the background, as guests explored all corners of the ship, from the top of the mast to the steam engines below.

Mayor Mike Savage and about 25 other guests experienced a spray of water to the face as the Bluenose anchor dropped into the water on the screen above.

“Have you got a towel?” exclaimed Savage at the end of the show.

Savage, who praised the attraction, said it was an “evocative” representation of such an important part of Nova Scotia’s history.

“Telling stories about where we’ve been is important in terms of identifying where we want to go,” he said. “I think this is going to be good.”

A piece of important history

The Splash Dome, created by Brookes and Fiona Diamond and Jac Gautreau with KA’NATA Productions Inc., aims to educate the public about the Bluenose, a Lunenburg fishing and racing schooner that became a provincial and national icon.

The original Bluenose, which raced in the 1920s and 1930s, sank in 1946 and was replaced by the Bluenose II in the 1960s. In 1937, the Bluenose was first depicted on the Canadian dime.

“The Bluenose represents so much about Nova Scotia,” said Fiona Diamond. “These were fishermen from Lunenburg who had a drive and ambition and a work ethic and that represents, I think, what our young people should be striving for.”

Chloee Sampson, box office supervisor, getting ready for the preview.
Chloee Sampson, box office supervisor, getting ready for the preview.   Sydney Jones

New technology

She said using an immersive dome to host the project has been a challenging experience.

“We’re used to doing pioneering kind of projects and this is what you get when you get into this world of technology – it’s so new,” she said. “There’s nobody you can call up and say, “what did you do here’?”

Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Tony Ince also attended the preview. He said the use of technology in the exhibit is a ‘fantastic’ way to engage audiences, especially young people.

“The Splash Dome will help entice them to visit Lunenburg, to feel, smell, and hear Nova Scotia’s sailing heritage,” he said.

“You know, young people are so interactive today and they look outside the box – we have to meet them at the same level that they are thinking.”

The Splash Dome is a project by the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic and is supported by the Canadian Maritime Heritage Foundation.

Shows last about 15 minutes and run every 40 minutes. The exhibit will be open until Oct. 31.