Love theme park attractions but wish more would be feature non-fiction IP? Today was the day for you at the Themed Entertainment Association's Thea Awards Digital Case Studies, which showcased this year's award-winning museum exhibitions.
The three projects featured today demonstrated immersive placemaking, special effects, storytelling, and interaction — elements that most fans associate with theme park attractions but increasingly are becoming tools for education in museums, as well.
The session started with The Fram Museum in Oslo, Norway, which won a Thea Award for Museum Upgrade. Geir O. Klover, Director, The Fram Museum, and Ed Cookson, Director, Sarner International described the facility, which provides a home for the Fram, the wooden ship that Roald Amundsen used on his journey to the South Pole. The same ship several years earlier was used in two arctic expeditions, making the Fram one of the widest-ranging ships in history.
For years, the Fram was housed in a relatively simple structure. But the museum's renovation brought the ship to life by surrounding it with a 270-degree video screen that shows polar scenes on a 15-minute loop, creating the illusion that the ship is at sea. Localized audio and even a rocking bench on the deck help complete the illusion.
Below deck, the Fram now features historical artifacts in their appropriate locations on ship, including personal effects in cabins, and a restoration of the ship's diesel engine, which now appears to be operating thanks to environmental effects, including lights, original engine sounds, and even the smell of diesel fuel.
"For us, it's about connecting the visitor to this very visceral experience - not just the light and the sounds, but giving them an opportunity to inform themselves, about the science, about the history," Cookson said.
The second session featured The Hebrew Bible Experience at the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC. Rena Opert, Director of Exhibits, Museum of the Bible and Matthew Solari, Creative Director, BRC Imagination Arts showed off the winning exhibition, which Solari called "a dark ride without the ride vehicle."
The exhibit had plenty of space — with 15,000 square feet, but it was go within a historic building with columns every 20 feet. That led the team at BRC Imagination Arts to create five theaters and 10 walk-through spaces for the exhibit, which tells the story of the Torah through show scenes straight out of a theme park ride. Small groups are pulsed through the exhibit to help keep the feeling intimate and personal.
The exhibit starts with a plain-looking small theater before a series of media and practical effects lead visitors into the first walk-through sections.
"Like the characters in our story, you are plunged into a world in chaos, where we evoke humankind's descent into violence, through theatrical lighting, oblique walls and dramatic music," Solari said. "From here on out, each space will have its musical score and distinct visual approach, as if each space was conceived by a different artist," evoking the different authors of the books of the Bible.
"I want people to take away that this a subject that people can engage with, on their own terms," Solari said.
The final presentation today featured The Cool Planet Experience in Wicklow, Ireland, "the world's first interactive experience on climate action," according to CEO Vicky Brown. The experience, which takes place in an old bakery building on the grounds of Powerscourt House & Gardens was honored for Museum on a Limited Budget.
"We wanted to change this negative narrative of climate change and make sustainability so cool that it became the norm," Brown said.
Peter Whittaker, Co-Founder and Creative Director, DMW Creative, described the experience, which is aimed at school children between the ages of 12 and 15. Visitors are given RFID wristbands, which keeps track of the carbon footprint as the make choices in a series of interactive exhibits. The design was based upon three principles: evoke emotions, make it personal, and mix it up, Whittaker said. The idea is to engage children's "pester power" to get families thinking about their environmental impact.
"It demanded innovation, because of the weight of the subject matter," Whittaker said of the experience's interactive design focus.
The next session in the TEA's Thea Awards Digital Case Studies runs September 3 and features Thea Classic winner Pageant of the Masters from Laguna Beach, Calif. as well as live show winners The Legend of the Gods from China and Le Premier Royaume from France's Puy du Fou. The series concludes with its seventh session on November 5, featuring theme park winners Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi and Disney's Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge. Tickets are available via the TEA's website.Tweet
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