The National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial in Kansas City, Missouri opened recently as the country’s only national museum dedicated to preserving the artifacts, history, and experiences of what was once called “the war to end all wars.” Designed by the world-renowned Ralph Applebaum Associates, the museum will use the latest in interactive technology to tell the story of the war through the experiences of those who lived it. Electrosonic Systems Inc. (Electrosonic) is responsible for designing, engineering, and installing all of the site’s AV systems.
“Everyone on the Electrosonic team is very excited and proud to be working on this world-class facility,” says Electrosonic project manager, Thursby Pierce. “It has not only been a challenge technically with its creative interactive exhibits, it has also been very enlightening from a historical stand point. The story the museum tells is one that reflects the paths of tension that lead up to World War I, the horrors of modern mechanized warfare, and the role of the powers involved. Most of all, it explains how the The Great War has influenced world politics and economics in today's global society.”
The museum’s 30,000-sq.-ft. core exhibit area is built directly beneath the iconic Liberty Memorial, dedicated in 1926. Beginning with a surreal walk across a glass-floored bridge, beneath which lie 9,000 poppies, each representing 1,000 military fatalities, visitors will pass into a vast interactive museum experience designed to elicit an emotional and intellectual response.
Electrosonic worked closely with media producers Donna Lawrence Productions and Second Story Interactive Studios, Inc., acoustical engineers SH!Acoustics, specialty developers Potion, and lighting designers Technical Artistry to engineer the museum’s vision on budget and on schedule.
The most technically-challenging exhibit for Electrosonic was the Horizon Theatre which features a broad expanse of imagery and lighting effects on a screen 25ft high by 100ft wide covering most of the back wall.
“The challenge was to create a video canvas that serves as a backdrop to a lifesize tableau featuring a typical World War I battlescape,” explains Electrosonic's Tony Petruzziello. “No theatrical element is missing here, except maybe fog and rain—and they were considered.” The production includes synchronized multi-channel High Definition video edge-blended across six projectors; six channels of digital lighting using High End DL-1 projectors synchronized to the show, along with dozens of effects lighting channels; and multi-channel audio rivaling any stage performance. “This will be a spectacular and emotional experience,” Petruzziello promises.
Electrosonic also fulfilled the technical requirements of other museum exhibits and spaces, including the interactive Portrait Wall; the Orientation Theater which sets the scene for war; Interactive Issues/Study Stations for groups and individuals; Battlescape: Animated Maps of the war’s major combat action with audio commentary; Air War and War At Sea videos; and Chronology Videos which integrates scenes from popular movies of the era. Electrosonic supported these components with monitors, projectors, speakers and other audio devices, as well as back-of-house equipment and racks.