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Special Venue Media: Smithsonian becomes Repeat Customer with Global Immersion Dome Upgrade


The Lelawi Theater at the National Museum for the American Indian (NMAI) in Washington DC, USA, has reopened following the upgrade of the fulldome display system by Global Immersion. 

The theater underwent the renovation in November 2009 which included integration of a new four-channel digital projection and server solution; producing sharper, brighter and more dazzling results.

The Lelawi (from Delaware word meaning ‘in the middle’) Theater is one of the feature attractions at the NMAI – one of the many U.S. National Museums managed by the Smithsonian Institution and a facility dedicated to the life, language, literature and arts of Native American people. Since opening in 2004, the 120-seat circular theater has immersed visitors in an exclusive 13-minute presentation titled ‘Who We Are’. This production was designed to portray the vibrancy and diversity of contemporary Native life – exploring the organic bond between communities and their land, religion, traditional knowledge, government and expression.

The 12-meter diameter theater recreates the traditional camp-fire, native folklore scene – featuring a concentric design with tiered bench seating located around three display systems. The digital fulldome configuration allows the audience to view the ‘sky’ above, while a central ‘camp-fire’ is simulated using a video projector positioned below the floor onto a screen representing the flaming fire around which Native Americans would tell stories. This digital ‘fire-pit’ is surrounded by four smaller screens in the center of the theater which display accompanying show content. High visitor numbers, increasing maintenance costs and scheduled continuation of the ‘Who We Are’ show programme until 2014 identified the need for a technology refresh.

Global Immersion upgraded the seven existing projectors with a four-channel Fidelity Bright™ DLP™ system – substantially increasing brightness and quality of the display, yet significantly reducing the ongoing cost of ownership. A playback server was also integrated to feed the correct resolution to the display, and to house the new Remote Diagnostic capability – promising a reliable and serviceable system for the future. Global Immersion also integrated the new electronics to the existing audio and control systems and will continue to service the facility.

Alan Caskey, Sales Director at Global Immersion explained "After the theater’s five years of heavy-duty operation, we were contracted to refresh the electronics following deterioration of the display and the ageing technology’s increasing maintenance costs. The upgraded system design reduced the number of integrated hardware components and has provided a significantly more robust and cost-effective experience."

The original digital theater system was designed and developed by the Global Immersion team when the company was a division of SEOS (now Rockwell Collins). 

About the National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian is the sixteenth museum of the Smithsonian Institution. It is the first national museum dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Americans. Established by an act of Congress in 1989, the museum works in collaboration with the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere to protect and foster their cultures by reaffirming traditions and beliefs, encouraging contemporary artistic expression, and empowering the Indian voice.

About Global Immersion

Global Immersion is a full service immersive theater design and installation organization, integrating and developing fulldome cinema, large-format immersive theater, 3D and 4D experiences – creating an effective and advanced means of educating and entertaining the public with the application of innovative concepts and leading-edge technologies.

Visitors enjoy the 13-minute multi-media presentation in the Lelawi Theater at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Katherine Fogden, NMAI

See also:
Special Venue Media: Central Texas College’s Mayborn Planetarium Goes Digital with Global Immersion
Special Venue Media: National Space Centre Planetarium Becomes latest Global Immersion DIY Install

Special Venue Media: Global Immersion Wins AV Award for California Academy of Sciences Planetarium

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