The Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, Library and Hall of Fame has just completed an $18 million renovation.
Through its use of interactives, immersive environments and game-based learning experiences, the Petroleum Museum takes guests on an amazing journey through over 250 million years of Permian Basin history and celebrates the determination and inventiveness of its people.
JRA (Jack Rouse Associates) provided overall planning, design development and project management for the Petroleum Museum’s 15, 000 square feet of exhibit space. In addition to telling the story of how petroleum transformed the Permian Basin and explaining the processes of finding, extracting, producing and transporting this energy source, the Petroleum Museum hopes to inspire young visitors to pursue careers in the petroleum and energy sciences.
“Both we and the client had a strong desire to make the experience entertaining, ” said Rob Morgan, JRA Senior Project Director.
“Taking a page from our theme park work, we employed techniques such as a game-show based introductory film, dramatic immersive environments, and adapted video game-like technology to convey some challenging content in a fun way. We engage the guests in many ways, catering to various learning styles. The content can be updated periodically so the messaging can stay as relevant as possible, and encourage repeat visitation.”
The guest experience begins with a journey through time, from hundreds of millions of years ago to the present day. Visitors then enter the “Extreme Science” area, where they learn about the techniques and innovations involved in oil exploration and production.
Highlights of the renovation include:
• Mythcrackers: An introductory film welcomes visitors by examining and dispelling common petroleum myths via a Family Feud-style game show, because “it’s what you think you know that just ain’t so.”
• Permian Reef: Upon exiting the theater, guests are fully immersed into a dramatic recreation of a 250 million-year-old Permian reef, featuring the Museum’s original 1975 reef diorama, beautifully restored.
• Birth of an Industry: Midland comes to life via a re-creation of a 1930s Boom Town, complete with a general store, land office and an array of early Midland artifacts.
• The Voyage of the PetroTrekker – As the tactical engineers of a petroleum exploration vessel, guests journey across land, through space and under the sea to find new sources of petroleum. This immersive theater features interactive touch screens, dramatic lighting and special effects to place guests in the heart of the action.
• Risk and Reward – In this game-based exhibit, guests run into various obstacles as they drill for oil and must determine whether to forge ahead or walk away.
• Supplemental Energies – This area explains the supplemental energies, from solar to hydro to nuclear, that are being used to power our cars, homes and cities.
• Chevron Energy City – This brightly colored “city”, geared towards visitors ages 6-9, teaches children about various forms of energy and the steps they can take to conserve energy in their everyday lives.
• Find Your Way Café – Having learned about the heritage of the past and the innovations of the present, guests now learn how they can contribute to the future of the petroleum industry, matching their skills and interests with potential careers in the field via an interactive quiz.
“This is a project that has been several years in the making and it has certainly exceeded all our expectations, ” said Kathy Shannon, Executive Director.
“The amount of information, dispersed in so many creative ways, will fascinate visitors of all ages. The Museum has become a showcase for innovative and creative thinking and definitely a strong science-based museum for our community and beyond.”
All photos kind courtesy of The Petroleum Museum.