Museum of the Bible unveils $42M high-tech experience
Trailblazing Approach and Custom Components Support Aim to Become World's Most Technologically Advanced Museum
WASHINGTON — Today Museum of the Bible debuted a comprehensive ecosystem of technology: a $42 million investment in a visitor experience that will be unrivaled in the industry when the museum that invites all people to engage with the history, narrative and impact of the Bible opens in D.C. in late 2017. The unveiling of the museum’s technology roadmap and leading-edge components included the announcement of a provisional patent application and demonstrations of technologies in development that together will create an ultra-modern museum experience.
“Museum of the Bible’s team of innovators, in concert with some of the world’s leading creative and technical minds, has dedicated itself to building the most technologically advanced museum in the world,” said Cary Summers, president of Museum of the Bible. “This team brought together the most impressive electronic systems in the world, dreamed up how to create the best museum experience and then invented the rest of the tools they needed to bring our guests the most interactive, memorable experience possible.”
Among the components announced was a digital guide—a powerful technology ecosystem for which a customized mobile devicethe size of a large smartphone serves as a guest’s primary interface. This convergence of technologies—unlike any personal touring system used by any museum in the world—promises to become the new standard for museum navigation.
During a media briefing at Museum of the Bible, museum Vice President Jeff Schneiderdemonstrated how guests, before embarking on their visit, will be able to easily plot their entire experience and personalize content on the mobile device using a provisionally patented identification system. The device’s preloaded content, working seamlessly with ultra-wideband indoor positioning systems and bespoke software, will guide guests through the museum so they can explore what interests them most in the time available for their visit.
Designers and software engineers pioneered new algorithms and chipsets to give the system accuracy within six inches, a feat unheard of in spaces as large as a museum spanning 430,000 square feet and with the potential for thousands of users accessing the system at once. The system allows for 3-D interactivity with biblical artifacts and other exhibit features, as well as virtual and augmented reality, as visitors make their way through the museum. In addition, a personalized, running commentary available in 10 languages will educate guests while efficiently guiding them to popular exhibits, theaters and attractions at optimum times.
Also introduced was cutting-edge, 360-degree projection mappingemployed in a 472-seat Performing Arts Hall, which leverages 17 state-of-the-art 4K projectors to turn the entire venue into a stunning and dynamic digital canvas. The projectors, which are individually capable of casting a 30,000-lumen image, align within millimeters of one another to give the effect of complete immersion in a given environment.
The projection-mapped experience, typically employed on the face or sides of a building, is a feat rarely attempted indoors and is arguably a trend-setting venture in terms of live-performance venues. The imaging system is complemented by a finely tuned audio system that rivals the most advanced theaters, allowing technicians to shape the sound to account for the venue’s acoustics, achieving the most compelling experience for every listener, regardless of seat location.
Museum leaders also pointed to the digital entry arcade ceiling as an example of how technology will shape Museum of the Bible’s guest experience. It is the first impression visitors entering the museum will receive, and its size (140-foot by 15-foot) and 555 LED panels with five-millimeter pixel pitch will draw the guests’ eyes to the kaleidoscope-style content featuring images from the Museum Collection, landscapes and more.
In conjunction with the tech rollout, David Greenbaum, a vice president of SmithGroupJJR who serves as lead architect for the project, discussed how technological advances are integral to the museum’s architecture and design. “In the museum landscape in Washington, D.C., this museum will stand out,” said Greenbaum. “It will be a memorable experience for all kinds of visitors from around the nation and the world—a chance to explore a well-known book in a totally new way. The architecture weaves together humanity, history, art and technology to express the spirit and significance of the Bible’s ancient writings.”
Brian Flegel, senior vice president of general contractor Clark Construction, also outlined the project’s construction hurdles, including Museum of the Bible’s aggressive construction timeline. “One of the more remarkable aspects of this project is the pace of the overall delivery of Museum of the Bible. Through a closely woven partnership of client, designers, contractor and subcontractors, we will deliver this museum in half the time of any museum in its class,” said Flegel. “This highly collaborative environment has allowed creativity and ingenuity to thrive, despite the accelerated pace, without sacrifice to quality in building a world-class guest experience. The process has been anything but ordinary, and the result will be something exceptional and extraordinary.”
The museum’s guest experience will be rounded out and enabled by some 384 monitors, 93 projectors, 83 interactive elements, 12 theaters and 200 miles of low-voltage cabling used to engage guests with exhibits anchored by some of the world’s oldest biblical texts and artifacts.