The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, renowned as the world’s best and largest family museum, comprises nearly 120 thousand artefacts showcased in almost half a million square feet, and draws 1.25 million visitors a year.
Alcorn McBride, the leading manufacturer of show control, audio and visual equipment, has demonstrated a facility for bringing new, durable and zero-maintenance designs to market.
Three new headline-grabbing exhibits at the museum use an array of Alcorn McBride equipment for video and audio playback, as well as show and lighting control.
‘Leonardo, the Mummified Dinosaur’
‘Leonardo, the Mummified Dinosaur’ opened at the The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in March, taking its place in the permanent ‘Dinosphere’ exhibition, housed in a former CineDome. ‘Dinosphere’ has around 150 programmable lights and artefacts.
Chief Technical Officer, David Donaldson, explains: “In part of Dinosphere is Leonardo, the largest intact dinosaur ever discovered and one of only four mummified dinosaurs in the world. He’s about 20 feet long and 77million years old.”
Discovered in Montana in 2001, Leonardo is a young Hadrosaur, or duck-billed plant-eater.
Donaldson adds: “Leonardo is in a special glass case with a sound and light show that tells his story. He’s already one of our most popular exhibits.”
Alcorn McBride equipment is the technology underpinning the Dinosphere exhibition and Leonardo exhibit:
- A V16 Pro show controller is at the core of the Dinosphere.
- Monitors throughout the exhibit show video-playback managed by an A/V Binloop HD.
- A pair of Lightcue DMX recorder/players handle Dinosphere and the 15 separate lights above the Leonardo exhibit respectively.
- Leonardo’s soundtrack is run in synch with his lighting by a single-channel AM4 MP3 and WAV player.
- A Digital Video Machine 8400 plays back animated loops on a 90-inch flat panel display when Leonardo’s seven minute show isn’t running.
Two further immersive exhibits opened in May.
‘Take Me There:® China’
‘Take Me There:® China’ explores life in a single culture.
Visitors board an aeroplane fuselage lined with windows and with two rows of seats.
Three slots in an AV Binloop HD play back content onto two video monitors mounted on the front wall and two overhead: footage of flight attendants speaking, and of views from the plane. Buttkickers beneath the seats simulate air turbulence and are triggered by the Binloop.
Further on in the exhibit, in the marketplace, medicine and calligraphy shops and tea house, an AM4 plays ambient music and sound.
Visitors sit facing each other in two rows of seats in a bullet train experience, a ‘window’ between on which a Digital Video Machine HD plays back footage shot on an actual high-speed bullet train trip.
An additional AM4 is available in a performance space, so staff can access a series of audio clips programmed directly into the system.
Donaldson expounds on the ethos of the museum, explaining that exhibits are designed to foster intergenerational learning and family interaction via several touchpoints, adding: “High-quality sound and light shows stimulate the senses and help create a feeling in which children and families experience what it would be like to wander around another time or place via high definition video and sound re-creations. These immersive experiences make it seem as though you really are in China or travelling the earth 77 million years ago.”
‘Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor’s Painted Army’
Another exhibit in the China Gallery using Alcorn McBride technology is ‘Terra Cotta Warriors: The Emperor’s Painted Army’; the first showing at a children’s museum of the famous tomb statuary since their excavation in 1974 near Xian, China.
Visitors are brought, 50 at a time, into the entry theatre’s cue line where they watch a video run off a Digital Video Machine HD8400.
Next they enter the dim light of the gallery where sound plays throughout the 15, 000 square feet from an AM4.
Finally, a theatre experience comprises looped video content from an Alcorn McBride Binloop on two walls.
The Playscape permanent exhibit, which showcases up-to-the-minute brain research, also features an A/V Binloop HD for its cue line. The exhibit creates a physical space to enable young families to explore important developmental milestones in children’s lives. Video is run in sync by the Binloop for families waiting to enter the space.
Kimberly Harms, Director of Media and Public Relations at the The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, explains the significance of the technology put in place by Alcorn McBride: “It’s important to understand that this is a place for children and families where they can learn together and share interactive experiences brought to life through sound and light shows that are made more authentic using tools such as the Alcorn McBride equipment. We find those kinds of details make our visitors feel as if as if they’re in the actual place depicted in the exhibit.”
“Everything works very well, ” adds Donaldson: “We have been very happy with the Alcorn McBride gear we use as it has been very reliable and is solid state.”